Any good baseball fan over the age of forty knows the name Boog Powell: Burly, genial redhead. Baltimore Orioles fence-buster and fan favorite. 1970 American League Most Valuable Player. Subject of one of the 1970s’ most-loved Miller Lite punchlines.
Less known is that Boog had a stepbrother in the major leagues from 1968 through 1973: utility man and pinch-hitter Carl Taylor, who spent six seasons in the employ of the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Kansas City Royals. (Topps mentions this on the back of Carl’s 1969 and 1974 cards; on his 1970 card, he is referred to merely as Boog’s “relative.” None of Boog’s cards make mention of a stepbrother.)
After Boog’s mother died during his childhood, his father remarried a woman whose son, Carl Taylor, became Boog’s stepbrother. Two and a half years’ Boog’s junior, Carl possessed the same penchant for mischief as the aptly nicknamed Boog—called so by his father because “booger” was a southern term for a boy who gets into trouble, which was eventually shortened to “Boog” (correctly pronounced like a soft, suthun’ “book”).
Carl also possessed the same penchant for baseball as did his elder stepbrother, which eventually led to their playing on the same little league team. In fact, their Lakeland, Florida, squad made it all the way to the 1954 national championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania—or as Boog and Carl referred to it, the Fuckin’ Little League World Series Mixer. (Boog also had a biological brother, Charlie, who played on this team and who eventually reached the minor leagues. An injured shoulder suffered in a fall from a treehouse is rumored to have curtailed Charlie’s career.)
Boog and Carl’s early years together are hazy but seem to indicate that they shared a bedroom despite a general unease between them. Eventually, they began to bond through favorite dinosaurs and Carl’s Phil Cavarretta–model Louisville Slugger autographed by fellow Chicago Cub Randy Jackson. (The young Carl had bumped into Jackson several years earlier, and all Carl had on him was the Phil Cavarretta bat—and Carl was not going to not get Randy Jackson’s autograph, right? Boog surely would have done the exact same thing.)
In fact, it seems that Boog and Carl bonded so well that the boys constructed a bunk bed so they would have more room to do activities—although they made the mistake of agreeing on the physically imposing Boog taking the upper bunk, which nearly spelled Carl’s end.
Several years later, the Powell family relocated from Lakeland to Key West. The boys’ disappointment in having to leave behind the treehouse in which Boog had stored his complete collection of the relatively new magazine called Playboy was placated by their exciting new surroundings at the western tip of the Florida archipelago. It was not only here that Boog became a three-sport star at Key West High School but where Carl began to mature as an athlete, himself. Even more significantly, being no more than a mile at any point on the island from the warm waters of the Straits of Florida made every week Shark Week. Boog and Carl could watch this favorite spectacle in-person almost any time of year—at least until Mr. Powell tired of their lackadaisical attitudes and insisted that they get jobs.
Still, they found time to indulge their other shared passion: Boog and Carl would take their father’s 13-foot Feather Craft Topper—usually without his permission—put on their plastic Key West Fire Department helmets, hook up a line to the bilge pump, and spray the shore or other boats with seawater, in a ritual they came to call “boats ‘n hose.” (Scamps that they were, Boog and Carl would sing gleefully from offshore, Boats ‘n hose, boats ‘n hose, I gotta have me my boats ‘n hose…)
This is not to imply that all was rosy between the stepbrothers. Reportedly, they feuded, and on one particularly charged occasion, scuttlebutt has it that Carl—despite extremely emphatic warning from Boog not to touch his marching-band tuba—indeed made contact with the instrument in an unsightly way, which precipitated a horrible brawl.
Soon enough, though, both boys were making waves for their high school team, the Key West Conchs, and attracting the attention of major league scouts. (A 1959 Fort Myers News-Press article garnered Boog attention as he obliterated rival pitching by batting .571 and slugging an ungodly 1.036 over 11 games.) The Conchs won the Florida state championship in 1958, propelled heavily by Boog’s bat, and repeated in ’59. Not long after his graduation, the Baltimore Orioles outbid the St. Louis Cardinals and signed Boog for $25,000. Carl soldiered on with the Conchs, and like his stepbrother, he, too, signed on with a major league organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates, shortly after graduating.
Boog hit like wildfire in the minors and found himself in Orioles duds by the last week of the 1961 season—his major league debut being the game in which Roger Maris tied Babe Ruth’s mark with his 60th homer run of the season. Carl took longer to ripen, beginning his sojourn through the minors in 1962 and finally reaching major league pay dirt in Pittsburgh’s second game of the 1968 campaign.
Shortly before Opening Day, after Carl had officially made the Pirates squad, Pittsburgh and Baltimore coincidentally clashed in a spring-training tilt. When Boog and Carl met on the field during warmups, Carl was heard to quip excitedly, “Did we just become major leaguers?” to which Boog replied ardently, “Yup!” after which, they ran to the bullpen and did karate to limber up.
Although Boog and his 230-lb frame hardly could claim that he hadn’t had a carb since 1964, he’d enjoyed consistent success for the previous five seasons, finishing third in the American League MVP race as he helped the Orioles to a surprise World Series championship in 1966.
Carl’s major league career did not bear immediate fruit. As catcher Jerry May’s backup, Carl got into only 44 games and hit a dismal .211 in 1968. Would he remain in the majors? Carl had worn a tuxedo on the first day of spring training yet managed to impress the coaching staff with his bat, his glove, and a sense of irony that skipper Larry Shepard confessed he hadn’t seen since Dizzy Dean pitched a barnstorming game against Indiana’s Greencastle Galoshes in two-tone wingtips. This ability to think outside the box, coupled with a surprisingly operatic singing voice that endeared him to general manager Joe Brown, kept Carl with the parent club in 1969.
A wise decision it was. Playing first base, the outfield, and coming off the bench, Carl suited up for 104 games and batted a sizzling .348, the highest batting average on the club and .0008 points better than National League batting champion, Pete Rose (albeit in 470 fewer plate appearances).
One would think that an effort like Carl’s 1969 would keep him in Bucs black and white for a while—but convinced of Manny Sanguillén’s and Al Oliver’s future stardom, and well stocked through its rich farm system, Pittsburgh swapped Carl shortly after the season to St. Louis for Dave Giusti and Dave Ricketts. Carl worked another 104 games in 1970, but his batting average tumbled nearly 100 points—and he soon entered the journeyman phase of his career. Dealt to Milwaukee, Carl became a Brewer in name only, as that club packed him off to Kansas City before the new season began.
Batting .189 and unhappy with his lot, United Press International reported on May 23, 1971, that Carl had “burned his uniform and other baseball equipment” (i.e., very possibly his tuxedo) and quit the Royals. Coincidentally—or not—this took place in Baltimore, and Boog tried to talk him out of it after the game. Was there an element of step-sibling rivalry? Boog was the reigning A.L. MVP, owner of two World Series rings, and justifiably earning $70,000 more than Carl. Possibly still smarting from the trade after his .348 season—especially because Pittsburgh became a playoff team the following year—Carl may have been dismayed that, unlike Boog, he wasn’t snappin’ necks and cashin’ checks.
“I wanna make bank, bro!” Carl allegedly complained to Boog. “I wanna get ass. I wanna drive a Hemi ‘Cuda.”
Boog may well have thought that he had a huge doucher for a stepbrother, but whatever plagued Carl didn’t last, so—at least secretly—he wasn’t a doucher. Carl returned to the Royals and appeared in two games for Kansas City before being farmed out to Omaha, where he pummeled American Association pitching for a .362 mark. As luck would have it, Pittsburgh bought his contract for its stretch drive, and Carl found himself on a first-place team. Alas, while the Pirates claimed the National League East, Carl was ineligible for the playoffs, having been acquired three days after the playoff-eligibility deadline. He watched idly as Pittsburgh sliced through San Francisco for the pennant and defeated Boog’s own Orioles in a seven-game cliffhanger to become champions of baseball (although Carl has, at times, augmented his autograph on baseballs with “71 World Champs”).
Likely much to Carl’s surprise, Kansas City bought back Carl shortly before the start of the 1972 season. Carl enjoyed his final two major league campaigns in powder blue, before retiring after the 1973 season. In 411 games, he had accumulated 298 total bases—the same amount Boog amassed in his 1969 season.
Boog’s career continued into summer 1977, first with a trade to the Cleveland Indians in early 1975—where, in the Tribe’s all-maroon road uniforms, he resembled, in his own words, “a massive blood clot”—and then as a pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who, with a healthy lead in the N.L. West, jettisoned Boog three weeks before clinching a playoff spot.
Boog soon became a favorite pitchman of Miller Lite beer, filming numerous television commercials in the wake of his major league career, several with good-natured former umpire, Jim Honochick (“Hey, you’re Boog Powell!”). These ads, including a few with former Japanese baseball player, Koichi Numazawa, were so well received that Boog enjoyed prestige worldwide.
Riding high, Boog attempted an ambitious start-up company with Carl that would delve into multiple endeavors, including entertainment, management, computers, research & development, and security. They were prepared to put in the man-hours to study the science of what customers need, but, alas, they couldn’t find investors—who could have been possibly you. Later, Boog entered the restaurant industry—and Boog’s BBQ restaurants thrive to this day.
They grew up so fast, indeed…
One thought on “Hollywood Stars Were in the Cards: Part 6”
I met Boog at his Camden Yards
barbecue place 20 or so years ago.
Got an autograph.