Flashback Friday: The Orioles' 36-year-old "Rookie Prospect"
Feb. 22, 2013
Baltimore's 36-year-old "Rookie Prospect," Danny Boone came to the Orioles from a Florida senior league after an eight-year absence from Major League Baseball. Boone, a direct descendant of explorer Daniel Boone, pitched for the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros during the 1981 and 1982 seasons and then re-emerged in Baltimore in 1990 after learning to throw a knuckleball.
The Orioles' 77-year-old scout Birdie Tebbetts unearthed Boone and reported his discovery to General Manager Roland Hemond. Tebbetts' own age made Boone seem younger.
"Birdie kept telling me about this kid and his outstanding knuckleball," Hemond told the Associated Press in September 1990. "Birdie kept calling him a kid, but later I realized that Birdie's been around so long that to him, a 36-year-old is still a kid. That made Boone sound younger, anyway."
Like Hemond, Tebbetts had a little age-related fun regarding his prospect.
"He's lucky he got an old scout with a big imagination," Tebbetts told Sports Illustrated. "Normally you don't dare suggest signing a 36-year-old guy, because somebody's liable to think you're senile."
At age 37, R.A. Dickey rode a masterful knuckleball to a 20-win, Cy Young season for the New York Mets in 2012. Boone's late-career revival at age 36 wasn't as magical. Nevertheless, he posted three scoreless relief outings for the O's prior to his first career start - and final MLB appearance - in Cleveland on Sept. 30, 1990.
Boone pitched 4.2 innings in the second game of a doubleheader, allowing eight hits and three runs while walking three and striking out none.
Based on his comments to the AP days earlier, Boone accomplished his goal.
"When you start back at something like this at my age," he said, "your only desire is to get back to the bigleagues."
Boone was deemed a "Rookie Prospect" by Score baseball cards in 1991. He played his final season in the Texas Rangers' organization at Triple-A Oklahoma City where he went 5-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 24 games.
Boone Blazing Comeback Trail (Associated Press story in The Spokesman Review, Sept. 26, 1990)
Minor-League Pitcher, 36, Keeps Dream Alive (Carl M. Cannon, The Seattle Times, Aug. 26, 1990)
Chip Off an Old Block (Tim Crothers, Sports Illustrated, July 23, 1990)
Danny Boone, Overcoming Obstacles (The Greatest 21 Days, blog entry, April 18, 2010)
Daniel Boone's kin pitching for Orioles (Thomas Boswell, Washington Post, March 31, 1990)