CARLSBAD — After years of battling alcoholism, a humble 43-year-old four time Gold Glove winner, three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger award winner Bret Boone shared the story of his sobriety with a room of teenagers on April 28 at the Carlsbad Safety Center.Boone, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1990 and played second base for 14 years, earning a career total of nearly $50 million, but his fortune and fame didn’t immune him to the self-entitlement he claimed or the disease of alcoholism.
“All the success I had in the game didn’t teach me how to live life as a normal person in a functioning society. I was always kind of in a bubble — I’m learning that now,” he said.
About 160 people attended the drug and alcohol awareness forum, hosted by The Carlsbad Police Explorers. The event also featured counselors from North County Adult Drug Court.
Boone is a third generation baseball player; his grandfather Ray played for 13 years, his father Bob played for nine years and his younger brother Aaron played for 12 years.
He said that as a kid he spent his time on the major league baseball fields with his father and got to hang out with famous players such as Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose, and baseball was what he knew and what he loved.
He said that as he grew older he got away from his Christian roots and that as he reached successes things became more about him and baseball.
“With all the accolades coming my way, I felt like Elvis Presley,” he said. “All the sudden I was a star, and the better I did the more I partied.”
Boone said that as the partying escalated it turned from three or four beers after the game, to five or six, to seven or eight, or nine or 10 vodkas.
Eventually, the alcohol took the passion of baseball away, he said.
During the 2004 season his grandfather was sick; the two were very close, he said, which triggered him to drink a little more, and a little more.
“I gave the eulogy at his funeral, drunk,” he said.
That time period became a turning point for Boone, when he said he noticed the drinking went from being fun to taking over his life and becoming the most important thing.
“It was what I had to do, not what I enjoyed to do,” he said.
He said the 2005 season was his worst year, and that he played terrible and couldn’t wait to get the game over.
In the 2006 season Boone went to Florida for spring training without his family (he has two teenage children and twins age 7), and a week into practicing drills he saw the sparkle in the eye of a young player and realized he didn’t have that anymore.
He went home that night, called his father, and said he was going to retire.
He said he felt the weight of the world come off his shoulders and figured he’d go golfing for the rest of his life.
Then close family members began to pester him about his drinking and eventually he
entered rehab, more so for them than for himself, he said.
After four separate trips to rehab, Boone now lives a sober life and just recently decided it was time to share his story.
“I just started doing it,” he said about publicly speaking to others. “It’s for me; it’s for my wellbeing.”
He also shares his story with the hopes to help others.
“If I can touch one person that’s huge,” he said.
It was also the first time the three agencies collaborated, and Carlsbad Police Cpl. Rick Galanos said they hope to host the event again.
“We would love to do this as an outreach program,” Galanos said.
The counselors at the drug awareness event were available afterward, and at least three teenagers made contact with counselors, he said.
Aside from the counselors who also shared their addiction stories with the crowd, one mother and her paraplegic son also shared what the outcome of an overdose can do.
Aaron Rubin, a Poway High School Class of 2000 graduate, overdosed on pills in 2005 and the once-healthy football player woke up from a coma as a paraplegic.
Now his mother Sherrie travels with him and tells his story through ‘Rollin with Rubin Prescription Pill and Drug Education’ lectures.
Angel Lopez, 14, of Oceanside, was one of several youth who attended the event with the Boys and Girls Club.
“I’ve never taken drugs or anything like that. I try not to take pressure. I don’t want to ruin anything in the future,” he said.
Stephanie Peterson, director of the Oceanside Boys and Girls Club location, said that the kids involved at the club are youth who have family life drama or are missing a role model.
She brought them to the event to help them see the dangers of addiction.
“They are at risk of ending up like these stories,” she said. “The likelihood they could turn to substance abuse is greater.”