FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Kevin Boles checked in with his dad at the end of the day, Kevin wanted to talk baseball.

But John Boles, a career baseball man, put baseball on the back burner.

“I would want to talk about how the Little League game went or how the high school game went and he would just say, ‘what did you learn today in school?’ ” said Kevin Boles, who begins his new job as the Portland Sea Dogs manager.

In every way, John Boles wanted things done right. And that meant schoolwork came before baseball.

John Boles became a known figure in Portland in the 1990’s, when he served as the farm director for the Florida Marlins, then the major league affiliate of the Sea Dogs.

The elder Boles, who would later manage the Marlins, was known as a disciplinarian who could talk tough when he had to, and put an arm around a shoulder when that was called for.

“My father is very disciplined and very organized, and he expects the players to be that way,” Boles said. “Because, what’s at stake? Trying to be one of the 750 best players (major leaguers) in the world.

“He’s an intimidating figure, but he’s also fair. When things are going well, he’s going to tell you you’re on the right track. But he’s also going to be honest with you. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, but at least it’s the truth.

“You can’t go wrong with the truth.”

One could hear John Boles telling the truth to Sea Dogs players, even when the Hadlock Field clubhouse door was closed. The voice could be quite audible when making his point.

And now, to see Kevin is to think of John.

Rob Leary, the major league staff assistant for the Red Sox, worked for John Boles and the Marlins. Leary has been a minor league boss for both the Marlins and Red Sox. He laughs about a day three years ago in Greenville, S.C., where Kevin Boles was managing.

“He was giving the pre-drill talk about the game (the night before),” Leary said. “I closed my eyes and you didn’t know if it was him or John giving that talk.”

It was Leary that first hired Kevin Boles to manage the Marlins rookie Gulf Coast League team in 2000, when Boles was 25.

“I nicknamed him Chip, because he was a chip off the block,” Leary said. “(John and Kevin), they have very similar personalities. Very disciplined. Structured. For a guy that started managing at a young age, he was on top of it. He’s grown up in the game.

“A lot of his mannerisms are similar to John. But he’s his own man. He stands by his convictions, with a tremendous background in the game. A very good baseball guy. Very thorough. Excellent evaluation skills. Great work ethic.”

Like his father, you can hear words like “doing it the right way” from Kevin Boles.

“The major things — playing the game the right play, doing things the right way, respecting the game — there’s no compromise in those areas,” Boles said.

“The guys who think you’re hard are usually the ones who aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. The guys doing what they’re supposed to do have an easy time.”

During spring training camp last month, players didn’t shy away from Boles. He’s approachable, friendly, and usually ready to go.

Disciplinarian or players’ coach?

“He has a really good idea of how to balance those two,” said outfielder Alex Hassan who played for Boles in Salem last year and will join him in Portland this season. “You have a lot of different personalty types on a team and he does a really good job of knowing his players and getting to know when to push certain buttons. He has a good feel for how to lead a team.”

Kevin Boles apparently knows a thing or two. After all, his dad always made sure he did his homework.


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