Indians Aging Infield Gets a Youthful Boost as Boone is Promoted—Rosen Could Follow Soon
Steve Eby | On 05, Feb 2014
September 1, 1948
Lou Boudreau, Ken Keltner and Joe Gordon have done a fantastic job holding down the infield-fort this season, as the three premier hitters are all integral cogs in Cleveland’s mighty lineup. The three veterans, however, have an average age of 32 and have shown some signs of tiring as the hot Cleveland sun and the everyday grind of the baseball season has taken its toll on the infielders. Reinforcements are more than welcome for the Indians pennant race, as backup infielder Johnny Berardino has shouldered the entire load all season long.
Enter Ray Boone—or Ike, as he is known to his teammates—the Indians young shortstop prospect who will be making his Major League debut just as soon as Boudreau pencils his name in the lineup. Boone was called up to The Show on Wednesday after proving his readiness at AA Oklahoma City this season.
In 87 games for the little Indians, Boone, 25, batted an outstanding .355 to pace the team. Not known for his power, Boone was able to slam three homeruns as well as 16 doubles and nine triples.
Boone signed on with the Indians prior to the 1942 season at the age of 18. After batting .306 for the Class C Wausau Timberjacks that season, Boone enlisted in the United States Navy and missed the next three seasons serving in the war. Ike returned to The States to play in 1946 and improved greatly over the next three seasons.
The call-up of Boone may just be the first step in their youth movement, as the contending Indians may also bring up young third base phenom Al Rosen as well. Rosen is labeled as a “can’t miss” prospect and lived up to his billing this season at the Triple-A level. Rosen batted an impressive .327 and walloped 25 homeruns and 110 RBI in 1948. Although blocked by the veteran Keltner, many figured that Rosen had the ability to shoulder the third base load for the Tribe out of Spring Training.
Rosen was promoted to the big squad last season for a short time, appearing in seven games for the Tribe in September. Rosen started only one game and got only nine total at bats, but he was able to collect his first Major League hit off of Detroit’s Stubby Overmire in a pinch hitting appearance on September 22.
The addition of Boone and the eventual, probable promotion of Rosen should provide some infield depth as the Indians continue to roll down the stretch. The Tribe currently sits 1.5 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox and 0.5 games behind the second place New York Yankees. While it is doubtful that the young Boone or Rosen would have much impact on the pennant race, they could reprieve the veteran infielders for the stretch that they may need it the most.