As Ted Boeke was told by his father, and as he tells it now, he had a baseball with him since he arrived.
“He brought me my first baseball the day I was born,” Boeke says of his father.
While Boeke’s dad bestowed his son with his first baseball on the first day of his life, setting it right next to his baby boy, he has never tired of it roughly 17 years later.
“I’m just one of those kids that eats, drinks and sleeps baseball,” Boeke says. “I could never get enough of it. I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Now, following an ultra-successful senior season on the baseball diamond for Crescenta Valley High, Boeke is moving on to play at Loyola Marymount University. He does so following a season in which he grabbed notice from coaches, fans, teammates, opponents and media alike.
He did it with a right arm that threw a momentous no-hitter against Loyola and a crucial complete game against Burroughs.
He did it with a bat that was equal parts clutch and powerful and that sent a Pacific League-winning home run into the Arcadia night.
He did it all most of the time. Hitting with a flair for the dramatic and unmarked consistency, pitching in big games with big results and stepping up into a leadership role, Boeke took his spot on center stage for the Falcons and emerged as the best ballplayer around, earning a unanimous vote from the sports editors and writers of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press, La Canada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun as the 2013 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
“I don’t think we had anybody that was more reliable,” Falcons Coach Phil Torres says. “He was responsible for a lot of things: Defense up the middle, driving in runs, leading, pitching.”
Boeke led the Falcons in a staggering array of statistical categories. As one of six Falcons to play in all 28 games, he led the Pacific League co-champions in at-bats (90), runs (29), hits (34), triples (two), home runs (five), runs batted in (24), batting average (.378), on-base percentage (.486), slugging percentage (.656) and total bases (59).
“He hit from day one of the season to the end of the season,” Torres says.
Though it was overshadowed by his prowess at the plate, Boeke did plenty on the bump, as well. He posted a 4-1 record and a 0.98 earned-run average through 11 appearances and 35 2/3 innings. He added 53 strikeouts, a pair of complete games and a 1.03 WHIP.
“What he did on the mound kinda gets overlooked,” Torres said.
In retrospect, it’s hard to believe anything Boeke did this past season got overlooked, although his pitching exploits obviously took a back seat to the tales of terrific turned in by his bat.
But Boeke’s splendid senior season was a long time coming for the baby boy with the baseball who would become the Falcons’ leadoff hitter.
Boeke quickly made a name for himself in Little League, coming up on the local diamonds of Babe Herman Field, Scholl Canyon Ballfields, Montrose Park and the Tujunga Little League Fields, among others.
“He was always a natural athlete,” says Nolan Rea, a senior outfielder this past season for Crescenta Valley who’s known Boeke since he was “12 or 13.”
Boeke quickly rose to the occasion for Crescenta Valley, earning a starting spot on the varsity squad as a sophomore.
“I saw him play with my son in Little League,” Torres says. “He had always just a little more pop and a little more leverage than everybody.”
Boeke truly forced people to take notice during his junior campaign.
Often dazzling with a phenomenal glove and arm at third base, Boeke’s offensive numbers forced notice despite being surrounded by established talent like Troy Mulcahey, Kyle Murray and Elliot Surrey — seniors who had long been at the core of the Falcons’ squad.
In garnering All-Area and All-Pacific League selections, Boeke hit an even .400 with 26 runs, 21 RBI and 15 extra-base hits. But, with the well-known talent around him, Boeke was still a bit in the shadows.
“My junior year, it was a little bit easier for me to fly under the radar,” Boeke says.
That would all change in his senior campaign, one full of sensational performances put in motion by the work, studying and practice that began long before the first pitch of his season.
“That’s where you get all the confidence,” Torres says. “[You’ve] done all the work, [you’re] prepared, let’s go and do it.”
Boeke put in plenty of work and, along with the other Falcons, put in time in Crescenta Valley’s “baseball school,” in which classroom lessons about America’s favorite pastime prove paramount.
For Boeke, it was just another aspect of improvement and becoming a complete ballplayer.
“We had to be students of game,” Boeke says. “Doing that and then being able to come home and watch MLB Network and watching games … really made me become a better student of the game. Being a student of the game I always feel is real important and I don’t think I would’ve been as successful this year if I wasn’t.”
And like any true student of the game, Boeke is looking to keep improving and learning from his mistakes.
“Failure is such a hard thing to accept and to be good at baseball, you have to be able to accept failure,” Boeke says. “I think that’s what I need to improve on the most.”
It’s an aspect that those closest to him in the CV dugout believe was his greatest area of improvement.
“I did see improvement,” Rea says. “More than improvement, I saw maturation.”
Adds Torres: “That’s how he really improved, how he dealt with adversity.”
The 2013 season proved to be one in which Boeke made myriad contributions, filling many roles.
“He was the biggest leader on the team for sure. Anything he did for our team was key,” Falcons pitcher Brian Gadsby says. “Every game, he contributed one way or another.”
It went with the territory, the territory that was without Mulcahey, Murray and Surrey, who graduated. Thus, whether he was playing third base or shortstop or starting on the mound, the Falcons leadoff hitter took over as “the guy,” so to speak, for Crescenta Valley.
“Being that guy is a little hard. I give a lot of credit to my coaches and the guys behind me,” Boeke says. “They had to throw me something I could hit.”
Boeke’s role increased when Cole Currie, the All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year, decided not to play his senior baseball season. A three-year starter who was slotted as the Falcons’ starting shortstop, a top hitter and the No. 1 starter, Currie left some holes, particularly pitching-wise.
“Especially with Cole leaving, we had to rely on [Boeke] being one of the top two guys,” Torres says.
But Gadsby emerged and produced a season of work that earned him all-league and All-Area accolades. Together, the sidearmer and Boeke combined to provide a potent 1-2 option on the bump.
“Me and him both had to step up big time,” Gadsby says. “He would normally be the one giving pointers to me, because he was more of the veteran.”
Boeke’s most memorable pitching performances were also huge turning points for the Falcons.
With the Falcons treading water at .500 in late March, they began a win streak to turn their fortunes around, beginning with a doubleheader sweep of Chula Vista Mater Dei in which Boeke had a three-run home run and a grand slam in back-to-back games.
But his real dramatics came in a doubleheader that followed against Loyola.
After Gadsby twirled a complete game for a 2-1 win over the Cubs, Boeke threw a complete game of his own. But Boeke dazzled to the tune of a no-hitter against the always-formidable Mission League squad. For good measure, Boeke doubled and scored the game’s only run in the 1-0 Falcons win.
“It was something that turned on the switch,” Boeke says of the Loyola sweep. “We knew we were good at that point.”
During Pacific League play, the Falcons created a four-way tie atop the standings coming off a win against Burbank to lead off a three-day week that then featured a first-place showdown against Burroughs — which had already defeated the Falcons.
Boeke was given the ball and turned in a gem. He went the distance, allowing no earned runs, four hits, three walks and striking out nine. He put an exclamation point on the victory with a perfect seventh inning, throwing just seven pitches.
“That’s a giant game in that three-game week,” Torres says. “He went CG when we needed a CG.”
It’s safe to say the Falcons needed plenty from Boeke and he delivered more often than not.
“We knew when Ted was coming up, something big was gonna happen,” Gadsby says. “And 95% of the time, something big happened when he was up.”
There was no greater amount of anticipation, no more dramatic situation and no bigger highlight than when Boeke walked up to the plate against Arcadia in the teams’ league finale.
“It was a crazy game. We knew that this game was the biggest game of the season,” Gadsby says. “Ted got the pitch he liked, second pitch of the at-bat, and he just whaled on it.”
With a share of the Pacific League title on the line, two outs in the top of the seventh inning and the Falcons down, 4-2, Joe Torres struck out. But the No. 9 hitter hustled to first when the third strike was dropped. One way or the other, it delivered the Falcons just what they wanted.
“It’s just hustle, because you never know what’s going to happen,” Torres said that day. “We were just trying to get Teddy up that inning somehow, some way.”
Boeke got up and gave the Falcons the latest chapter in their storied rivalry with the Apaches, sending the second pitch he saw into the evening for a three-run, game-winning home run.
“That Arcadia game has got to be the biggest highlight of my high school career,” says Boeke, who was voted the Pacific League Player of the Year and to the All-CIF Southern Section Division II team. “Hitting that home run was pretty exciting.”
It was a moment to remember, a moment of clutch drama and rivalry magic. As much as anything else, it was Boeke exemplifying his ability, his potential and his uncanny talent in pressure situations all in one.
“He’s got this one thing and it’s his clutch play,” Rea says. “It’s his ability to get things done when they need to get done. He made plays, he hit bombs. He just did things at the right time.”
Now, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Boeke is taking the next step. Phil Torres and many others think he has the potential to be a top-notch corner infielder who hits for power. That’s the path Boeke is taking now, looking to bulk up and hone his craft as he transitions from being a Falcon at Crescenta Valley to a Lion at Loyola Marymount.
“It was out there, it was just a matter of finding the right fit,” Torres says. “It all worked out in the end.
“I think he’s got a pretty high ceiling.”
No matter how high the ceiling or potential, Boeke, a boy with a baseball next to him the day he was born is taking the next step to continue doing what he’s always done — play baseball.
And he’ll enter that next level with eye-popping stats and storybook highlights behind him, along with the accolade of knowing he was the best this area had to offer on the diamond.