When Oakland Athletics rookie Boog Powell’s home run landed on the flag court at Oriole Park on Monday night, the ball was dripping with serendipity.
It was the first career homer by the young center fielder who bears the same name as the Orioles legend, and if it had come down a bit farther to the left and bounced just right, it might have been dripping with baked beans.
Boog met Boog for the first time Tuesday afternoon in a made-for-MASN moment at the famous Boog’s Barbeque stand, the 76-year-old Hall of Famer welcoming the 24-year-old center fielder with a “Big Boog” sandwich and a bear hug.
“I’m honored and I’m humbled a little bit, to tell you the truth,’’ said the elder Boog, who is no relation to Herschel Mack Powell IV. “It makes me happy. I think it’s pretty neat when you stop and you think of somebody picking your name up and carrying it into their profession.”
The feeling was clearly mutual. The fresh-faced A’s outfielder seemed genuinely thrilled to be in the presence of an Orioles Hall of Famer and former American League Most Valuable Player, not to mention one of the pioneers of reduced-calorie beer advertising.
The former Orioles first baseman became a national celebrity when Miller Lite hired him in 1978 to do a funny commercial with umpire Jim Honochick.
The new Boog is a Southern California native who was nicknamed by his father, who — oddly enough — was a rabid California Angels fan, not a Baltimore transplant.
So who is more honored and humbled?
“That’s not even a question,’’ the young Boog said, “because he’s in the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame, four-time All-Star … one-time MVP.”
Might be the first time anyone ever saw big Boog blush.
“Well, should have been, maybe, twice,’’ he said.
This was clearly a new experience for one of the true Orioles greats. It used to be a common occurrence for iconic third baseman Brooks Robinson, who as an O’s broadcaster was often beckoned to the railing before games by adult fans with young sons.
“Excuse me, guys,’’ Brooks would say, “I’ve got to go meet another little Brooks.”
Big Boog could have said something similar, if only because he’s a very big man and the younger Boog is a quick-footed center fielder who considered Monday night’s home run a happy “accident” in more ways than one.
“I’ve never been a power hitter and I don’t think I ever will be,’’ he said. “Home runs are a mistake to me.”
He conceded that it immediately occurred to him as he rounded first base Monday night that he had hit his first major league home run “right to Boog.”
“Yes, and I was trying not to smile and laugh and everything,’’ he said. “It definitely did. As soon as I hit it, I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder if he got it. I wonder if a fan gave it to him and he could give it to me tomorrow.”
It didn’t get quite that far, but a fan did retrieve it and traded it back to the younger Powell for a bat and an autographed ball.
Since everyone got to hear the tale of how young Boog got his nickname, it was only fair that John Wesley Powell give his backstory, which also reached deep into his childhood.
“In Lakeland, Florida, the was a radio show called ‘Dr. Boogit,’ he explained, “and my Aunt Eunice came over when I was about a couple months old and said ‘Where’s that little Boogit at?’ and they just started calling me Boog.”
He’s been called Boog as long as he can remember with some notable exceptions.
“Teachers called me John,’’ he said. “Bill collectors call me John, because they can’t get money from Boog.”
His unrelated namesake said the nickname was always about baseball and never about hiding from his very formal legal moniker.
“My full name is Herschel Mack Powell IV and that’ll always be my name,’’ young Boog said, “but Boog has stuck ever since I was a kid and I think that it will stick the rest of my life.”
There might be a third-generation Boog Powell in the majors someday. The two Boogs also held a FaceTime conversation Tuesday with a Little Leaguer in Tennessee with the same name.
Another little Boog indeed.