Powell at the Annapolis Book Festival in 2015
August 17, 1941 |
|September 26, 1961, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 24, 1977, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||1,187|
|Career highlights and awards|
John Wesley "Boog" Powell (born August 17, 1941) is an American former professional baseball first baseman and left fielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers between 1961 and 1977. He was with the Orioles' World Series Champion teams in 1966 and 1970, the American League Champion teams in 1966, 1969, 1970 and 1971, and the American League East Division Champion teams in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974. The four-time All-Star won the American League's Most Valuable Player award in 1970 and in 1964 posted a .606 slugging percentage to lead the American League.
Powell was born in Lakeland, Florida; he played for that city's team in the 1954 Little League World Series. After his family moved to Key West when he was 15, Powell played at Key West High School and graduated in 1959. He joined the Orioles after leading the International League in home runs at Rochester in 1961. He spent his first three seasons in Baltimore as a slow-footed left fielder before switching to first base in 1965. At the plate he was an immediate success, hitting 25 home runs in 1963; in 1964 he led the American League in slugging percentage (.606) while blasting a career-high 39 home runs despite missing several weeks because of a broken wrist. He slumped to .248 with 17 home runs in 1965, then won the American League Comeback player of the Year honors in 1966 (.287, 34 home runs, 109 runs batted in) while being hampered by a broken finger.
In 1966, Powell, along with Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, led the Orioles to the 1966 World Series, where they surprised the baseball world by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games to become baseball's world champions.
Before the 1968 season, Powell lamented, "once, just once, I'd like to go through a whole season without an injury." and he did just that, playing over 150 games each of the next three seasons. In 1969 he hit a career-high .304 with 37 home runs and 121 runs batted in, and in 1970 he was the American League Most Valuable Player, hitting 35 home runs with 114 runs batted in and narrowly missed a .300 average during the last week of the season. In the 1970 World Series, Powell homered in the first two games as the Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in 5 games. Prior to the 1971 season, Powell appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 1971 baseball preview issue. Powell helped Baltimore to a third straight World Series that year, blasting a pair of home runs in game two of the 1971 American League Championship Series against the up-and-coming Oakland Athletics, but he hit only .111 in the 1971 World Series as Baltimore lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.
In a 17-season career, Powell posted a .266 batting average with 339 home runs, 1187 RBI and a .361 on-base percentage in 2042 games. Powell hit three home runs in a game three times, and was second only to Eddie Murray on the Orioles' all-time home run list before Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed Powell in 1994.
Powell had been an American League all-star for four straight years (1968-1971). However, Oriole manager Earl Weaver believed in making liberal use of the platoon system; in 1973 and 1974, Powell fell victim to it, limiting his at-bats. The aging slugger was traded to Cleveland with Don Hood for Dave Duncan and a minor leaguer before the 1975 season. Powell, again a regular with the Indians, batted .297 (with 129 hits) and 27 home runs (his best season since 1970), and a .997 fielding percentage. However, he hit only nine home runs in 1976. 1977 was his final season, as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers. He hit .244 with no home runs and 5 RBI's. He was released on August 31, 1977.
In the 1970s and 1980s Powell appeared in more than ten different television commercials for Miller Lite beer, including a memorable one with umpire Jim Honochick. Playing on the theme of mocking umpires who make bad calls, the ad featured Honochick trying unsuccessfully to read the label on a beer bottle as Powell did the voice over. Borrowing Powell's glasses to bring the label into focus, and suddenly able to see who is standing next to him at the bar and providing the narration, Honochick exclaims, "Hey, you're Boog Powell!"
Powell is mentioned in the 4th episode of Cheers, entitled "Sam at Eleven". The fictional star of Cheers, ex-Red Sox reliever Sam Malone, relates his greatest moment in the Major Leagues: retiring Boog Powell in both games, to win the two games of a doubleheader
Powell is also mentioned in the 4th episode of Bill Burr's Netflix original show F Is for Family. While searching for his wife after having an argument, Frank Murphy drives past a batting cage and hears the crack of the bat hitting a pitch. He then quips to his daughter Maureen, "that's either your mother or Boog Powell."
Powell currently owns Boog's Barbecue, which sells barbecue sandwiches, pit beef, and ribs in two locations: on Eutaw Street at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. Powell is an avid angler, kicking off the Maryland Fishing season with the governor.