The 2005 Twins were 48-38 at the All-Star break — holding a narrow lead in the Wild Card race but trailing the on-fire White Sox by nine games in the AL Central. The Twins had won the past three division titles and was looking for a spark that might carry them past the White Sox or at least get them to the postseason.
During the break, they made a minor deal for Bret Boone, essentially getting him for nothing from the Mariners after Seattle had designated him for assignment a week prior to the transaction.
Boone was 36 at the time. He had plummeted from a three-year heyday from 2001-03 when he averaged 122 RBI a year for Seattle. With the Mariners he was hitting just .231 and his power had gone away.
It was a flier on a guy who maybe could have benefited from a change of scenery. The Twins plopped him into the No. 3 spot in the order, bumping Joe Mauer up to No. 2, in his debut on July 14. Boone went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, a sign of things to come. He wound up getting just 53 at bats with the Twins and collecting nine hits — all singles — before Minnesota dumped Boone as well. The Twins faded, too, finishing 83-79.
But in a new book titled, “Home Game: Big League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family,” set to go on sale May 10, Boone reveals that it was more than a simple matter of aging that caused him to fall so fast. Instead, he writes, he was a “substance abuser” whose alcohol problem grew worse during that period.
“I needed a drink. So I had one, and then another. I’d polish off a six-pack of beer and reach for another six-pack. Eventually I made the mistake of switching from beer to clear — from the slow, easy buzz of Bud Light or Miller Lite to the sharper edge of Absolut and Ketel One, a bottle at a time,” Boone writes, adding in the next paragraph: “Nobody knew how much I was drinking. To the baseball men I loved and trusted, it seemed like the usual late-career crisis.”
Boone never had another major league at-bat after being released. In the book, he again denies that he was a steroid user — a notion many speculated contributed to his rise and fall. “Not because I was holier than thou, but because I was scared to get caught.”