He Was A Giant?
Carl Boles and the Case of the Mistaken Identity
By Tony The Tiger Hayes
What could possibly be better than having Willie Mays on your team? Well, having two Willie Mays’ on your team of course!
The 1962 Giants weren’t lucky enough to have an actual clone of the “Say Hey Kid” on the roster. But in 27-year-old Boles, the squad had a player many people believed was Willie Mays.
Not the “next” Willie Mays mind you. But Willie Mays himself.
Like Mays, Boles was a brown eyed, handsome man. The OF was of comparable height and similar muscular build as Mays.
Typically, fans and media joyously flocked to the rookie with pen and paper ready. But some turned away puzzled.
“I’m signing more autographs than the veterans. The only thing is, after I sign my name they get mad at me,” Boles said in 1962. “Even newspaper reporters come up to me and start to interview me. They’ll say ‘Say Willie, about that hit…’ And when I say ‘I’m not Willie, some of THEM get mad.”
Why Was He a Giant?
Mays’ doppelgänger was promoted to San Francisco from the farm system in mid-1962 and remained with the club the final two months of the season.
The Giants were impressed with Boles rounded tool set.
“I don’t know how he’s going to hit up here,” said farm director Carl Hubbell, the former Giants Hall of Fame lefty. “But he’s not going to make many mistakes in the outfield and he’s a excellent base runner.”
Boles was on the Giants active roster as they clinched their first ever West Coast Pennant in Los Angeles.
In a bizarre scene, when the club returned home, still dizzy from their champagne celebration, they were met by a frenzied mob that spilled out on to the SFO tarmac.
As they tried to motor away, team bus was surrounded by a mob of frenzied Giants fans chanting “We Want Willie! We Want Willie!”
Unbeknownst to the throng – who how began rocking the coach back and forth – Mays had slipped into a taxi and was on his way home.
Of course there had to be a wise acre in the traveling party and OF Bob Nieman sarcastically crowed : “Let’s throw ‘em Boles and get the hell outta here!”
Before & After
The native Arkansan was signed by the Giants in 1954, but his career was interrupted by a military commitment with the Navy. By the time Boles got out of bell bottoms in 1959, he was an expert at knot tying, but a number of other Giants prospects had past him up in the pipe line.
Still, Boles clawed his way to Candlestick Park in ‘62, after batting .337, 18, 74 in 89 games at Double-AA El Paso.
“He’s fast and has a fine arm… He’s a fine OF prospect,” said Giants manager Alvin Dark.
Boles did all he was asked of in a reserve role, pinch hitting and running and spelling Felipe Alou in LF.
Unfortunately Boles would not return to the big leagues after ‘62.
A broken leg the following spring halted Boles momentum and he missed most of the 1963 season.
In 1965, it appeared Boles was retiring from playing when he took a position in the Giants scouting department.
He Never Got His Own Bobblehead. But…
Boles played in a total of 19 games with the Giants in ‘62, batting a satisfying.375 (9-for-24). Four of his hits came as a pinch hitter.
In a rare start, the Giants were trailing 2-1 in the 4th inning at Milwaukee when Boles drilled a game -tying RBI single off Bob Hendley. Later that frame, Boles scored the go ahead run on a Jose Pagan triple. SF hung on to win 6-4 (8/18/62).
Boles did not leave the dugout in the World Series vs. the Yankees that fall.
He did however score a game tying run as a pinch runner in the 7th inning of Game 2 in the special playoff series at LA. The Dodgers would eventually win the contest 8-7 (10/2/62).
Just when it appeared Boles’ baseball playing days were over he returned to the field… in Japan.
From 1966-71 Boles played with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and Nishitetsu Lions of the Japan Pacific League.
It was overseas that fans realized that not only did Boles resemble Willie Mays off the field, but on the field as well.
In his six seasons playing in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Boles would slug 117 home runs.
When the Giants toured Japan for a series of exhibition games in 1970, one of few Americans to greet them was… Carl Boles.