Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Luke Boone, St. Paul Stalwart

On this date in 1982, American Association standout, Luke (Danny) Boone, born Lute Joseph Boone on May 6, 1890 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died at the age of 92 in Pittsburgh.

Boone began playing in the American Association at the age of 26, joining the Toledo Mud Hens and playing second base (78g) and third base (20g) in 1917.

Boone's career was highlighted by the seven consecutive years he played for the St. Paul Saints (1919-1925). These were the halcyon seasons of the Saints when they won championships in 1919, 1920, 1922 and 1924 with some of the strongest teams ever fielded in the American Association's 61-year history.

During his time with St. Paul, Boone was primarily a shortstop who owned a hot bat his first few seasons as a Saint. In 1922, the 5'9" Pittsburgher played in all 167 games leading the club in that department as well in several other key offensive categories. Batting .287 that year, Boone was St. Paul's leader in hits (181-tied with outfielder Bruno Haas), RBI (115), doubles (36), home runs (8) and strikeouts (51). His 56 walks helped offset the 51 strikeouts, and his 20 stolen bases augmented his reputation as an aggressive player.

The Saints finished the 1922 season with a record of 107-60 (.641) under their long-time manager Mike Kelley. They finished 15 games over second-place Minneapolis, their arch rival next door, against whom they won 13 games and lost 11 that year.

Boone's best year as a Saint came in 1923 when he appeared in 162 games, all of them at shortstop. He batted .308 (the first time in his career hitting over .300), belted a career-high ten home runs and produced a club-high 196 hits, including 42 doubles, another career high. The Saints, despite a record of 111-57, finished in second place, just two games behind Wilbur Good's Kansas City Blues.

Boone brought a handful of seasons' worth of professional experience to the five American Association teams he played for. A former New York Yankee (1913-1916) who played 27 games for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1918, he was among the 45 American Association position players with ten or more seasons under their belt who played from 1902 to 1962.

All told, Boone appeared in 1,660 American Association games in his 14 consecutive seasons (1917-1930). He rapped out exactly 300 doubles, scored 885 runs, and amassed 244 stolen bases. His career .278 batting average was the result of connecting for 1,671 hits (better than one per game) in 6,002 at-bats.

View Boone's obituary and grave marker, located at the Jefferson Memorial Park in Pittsburgh, at this website: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Boone&GSiman=1&GScid=45197&GRid=22910512&

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