Though more than a century old, baseball still awaits 1) the invention of a comfortable protective cup and 2) its first three-generation major league family.
Two-generation families, on the other hand, are about as rare as 6-4-3 double plays. From Berra (Yogi and Dale) to May (Pinky and Milt), from Smalley (Roy Jr. and Roy III) to Wills (Maury and Bump), there have been more than 100 father-son combinations. There have even been five grandfather-grandson pairs, in which the talent, like male-pattern baldness, skips generations.
So far, however, there have been no grandfather-father-son combos. But going into this season, two players stand poised to complete the elusive genealogical triple play. By coincidence, Bret Boone, 22, and Jim Campanis, 24, are both minor leaguers in the Seattle Mariners organization, which specializes in setting generational precedents: In 1990 the Mariners were the first team in baseball history to have a father and a son, Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr., on their roster at the same time. By stranger coincidence, both Campanis and Boone graduated from high schools in the Yorba Linda, Calif., area, and they have known each other since their early teens.
In fact, an early memory that Campanis (son of Jim Sr., grandson of Al) has of Boone (son of Bob, grandson of Ray) is of "walking into my kitchen and seeing this preppy-looking kid and thinking, What's he doing here?"
Like the other 100 or so adolescents in the room, Boone was waiting in line for his turn at the keg. It was a Saturday night in 1987. and Campanis's parents were gone for the weekend. The 19-year-old Jim had thought it would be a swell idea to "have a few people over." The police disagreed and broke up the bash several hours later.
Wasn't it a bit cheeky that Bret, a senior in high school, crashed the party of somebody he barely knew? Campanis smiles. "You have to know Bret," he says.
In discussions of Boone with his teammates, coaches and scouts, one theme recurs: epic cockiness. "The guy just doesn't think he belongs in the minor leagues," says Campanis affectionately. "He thinks he should be in the majors today." Adds Mariners vice-president of scouting Roger Jongewaard, "He is probably the most self-confident player I've ever scouted."
Boone finds all this three-generation talk tedious. He has been over it. That a reporter would want to talk about his involvement in some genetic quirk rather than about his prodigious talent irks him. "The way I am has zero to do with whose son I am," he says. "I'm not my dad. He did what he did. To me that means nothing." He practically spits out the words.
As if to stake out his own identity, Bret has become a player with as little as possible in common with his father. Despite Bob's size—6'2½", 210 pounds—he was a self-described "ping hitter" who had 105 career homers and a lifetime average of .254. Bret is only 5'10" and 180 but takes fierce pride in his power. The savage cuts he takes at the plate are studies in controlled violence. Last year he hit 19 homers in the minors.
And whereas Bob was a premier defensive catcher, a four-time All-Star who earned seven Gold Gloves, Bret, a middle infielder, "has question marks on him defensively," says Mariners general manager Woody Woodward. Says a big league scout of Bret, "He doesn't do anything easy except hit."