Yankees playoff hero Boone, just 36, to have open heart surgery

Stunning news from Astros camp: Aaron Boone, who nine days ago turned 36 years old, is going to have open heart surgery.

OK, catch your breath and say a quick prayer for Boone, if you like.

Boone, who put the Yankees into the World Series with a Game 7-ending home run against the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS, needs to have doctors fix an aortic valve malfunction. It's not an "emergency" situation for Boone, who has known about his condition since college in the 1990s, but it needs to addressed. Now, apparently.

Boone won't play this season, but docs told him he could return eventually, if he wishes. Boone, who played for the Nationals in '08, has 126 homers, 107 stolen bases and is batting .264/.327/.426 for his career.

From MLB.com:

"Initially, my doctors thought I could delay corrective surgery for some time, but because of some variations in my condition, they are now advising me to deal with the problem sooner rather than later," Boone said. "Am I going to recover well enough to play baseball again? Probably. Will I play baseball again? I don't know at this time. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Here's Boone's big blast in '03, one of the most famous homers in the history of the House That Ruth Built. The Yankees are so excited, they appear to be ignoring the man who hit the homer so they might tackle... the umpire?

Boone, for those who weren't sure, is Bret Boone's brother, one of Bob Boone's sons and grandson of Ray Boone. All were major leaguers. The top photo is of each generation (Aaron is on the left) and comes from the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

White Sox and Indians fans might also remember the time A.J. Pierzynski stepped on Boone rounding the bases in the '05 pennant race. Boone rebounded from that, too.

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