Dad#039;s firing leaves Boone feeling sad

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 29, 2003

CINCINNATI - Third baseman Aaron Boone had just plopped slices of bread into the clubhouse toaster when third base coach Tom Foli tracked him down and told him to go see his father right away.

Cincinnati Reds manager Bob Boone was in his office, thinking of how he would break some unpleasant news to his son.

''I thought maybe he was getting fired or I was getting traded,'' Aaron Boone said. ''You never know. I was putting my toast in and Foli told me, 'Don't worry about your toast, go back there.''

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In an unemotional tone, Bob Boone told his son that he had just been fired. The Reds also fired general manager Jim Bowden, Foli and batting coach Tom Robson on Monday.

On the scoreboard at Great American Ball Park, the few thousand fans waiting for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies watched video of Aaron and his father enjoying the All-Star game in Chicago two weeks ago.

In the clubhouse, Aaron talked to friends while his father quietly slipped out, shaking reporters' hands but declining to say anything about the firing during his third season as manager.

''I think he kind of just needed to get away,'' Aaron said.

Bob Boone came under harsh criticism from fans for his unusual managing moves with the Reds - batting home run hitter Adam Dunn first, sending in a pitcher to pinch-run for another pitcher who was pinch-running. Even as his final season under contract went sour, he remained upbeat.

''I think he was probably a little relieved that they went ahead and did it now instead of stringing it along for the rest of the season,'' Aaron Boone said. ''I think he probably knew somewhat that it could happen. Hopefully it's for the best for everyone.''

It was tough on Aaron Boone to hear his father booed by fans as the season deteriorated. He said his father appeared to handle everything well, including the firing.

''He's always the same,'' Aaron Boone said. ''I had a lot of respect for my dad when he took this job, and I can say that's grown quite a bit in these three years.''

Aaron Boone had a double and two walks and scored the winning run in the 10th inning of a 6-5 victory over the Phillies. He had a mix of sadness and relief when he heard of his father's firing, but didn't have much time to dwell on it.

''Before I knew it, the game was starting,'' he said. ''You realize you've got a job to do, and we went out and played a nice game.''

Bench coach Ray Knight managed the team for the day. Dave Miley, the Reds' Triple-A manager since 1996, will take over for the rest of the season.

''I was really concerned about Aaron, and he went out and played a great game,'' Knight said.

Miley, 41, becomes the Reds' 57th manager. He signed with the Reds as a catcher and played seven seasons in the minors before becoming a coach. He started managing in Class A in 1988, and was the bench coach for 44 games under manager Tony Perez in 1993.

Miley served as assistant minor league field coordinator in 1994, and went back to managing in the minors. Chief operating officer John Allen made it clear to Miley that he will be an interim manager. The next one will be picked by whoever gets the general manager's job.

''Honestly, it's a dream come true,'' Miley said. ''There's not a whole lot of people that have spent that many years in an organization and have a chance to go up there at the major league level.''

Most of the Reds know Miley from their years in the minors or their medical rehabilitation stints at Triple-A. He has been successful managing a roster that's usually in flux.

''It's easy when you're winning,'' Miley said. ''With the moves and the players coming down, it's difficult. But it's something that I guess with all the years I've done it, I've just gotten accustomed to it. Now I'm just taking a step forward.''