For Aaron Boone, Tuesday signaled the formal end to his playing career and, at the same time, the launch of his role as an analyst of the game he played for 12 major league seasons.
Boone announced his retirement from Major League Baseball and will debut as part of ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" panel starting in March. He also will make select appearances on ESPN as a game analyst.
"It is with a sense of pride, sadness, and enthusiasm that I formally announce my retirement after 16 years of professional baseball," Boone said. "It has been a privilege and honor to have played in the major leagues for 12 seasons for six different clubs.
"While it's tough to leave the game as a player, I am eager to start my next career with my new team at ESPN. I am very grateful that I'll be able to stay in the game as an ESPN analyst and work with people who share the same passion for baseball that I do."
Boone's last games in the majors were played for the Houston Astros -- he was activated in September just five months after having open-heart surgery. He played in 10 games for Houston. He is believed to be the first player to return to the major leagues after having open-heart surgery.
Boone, who played every infield position during his career, spent his first six-plus seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. In 2003, he was dealt to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline, and his career-defining moment came in the old Yankee Stadium in the form of an 11th-inning walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series that lifted New York past the Boston Red Sox and into the World Series.
"As a player, Aaron was a tremendous competitor known for one of baseball's most dramatic postseason walk-off home runs," said Jay Levy, senior coordinating producer for ESPN. "He offers an important perspective, being recently removed from the game and having deep baseball roots, which will make him a great addition to our team."
Boone, who turns 37 on March 9, had his best season in 2003, when he was an All-Star and combined to hit 24 home runs and 96 RBIs and bat .267 for Cincinnati and the Yankees. He also played for the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals.
The Boone family has produced three generations of big league talent -- former All-Star third baseman Ray Boone (Aaron's grandfather), former All-Star catcher and manager Bob Boone (father) and retired All-Star second baseman Bret Boone (brother).