One of my favorite players, Wade Boggs, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY this weekend. Good eye Boggsie! Also kudos & congratulations to long-time Cubs 2nd baseman Ryne Sandburg who will also be inducted.
Boggs will go in wearing a Red Sox cap, which is only right.
“The choice of which team’s logo appears on a player’s plaque is our decision,” said Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey. “The wishes of each inductee were considered, but ultimately, it is important that the logo be emblematic of the historical accomplishments of that player’s career. A player’s election to the Hall of Fame is a career achievement, and as such, every team for which the Hall of Famer played will be listed. The logo selection is based on where that player makes his most indelible mark.”
Boggs played 11 of his 18 seasons (1982-’92) in Boston, appearing in 1,625 of his 2,439 career games (67 percent) with the Red Sox. Boggs totaled 2,098 of his 3,010 career hits (70 percent) with the Red Sox, with all four of his top-10 Most Valuable Player finishes coming in Boston. Boggs also spent five years with the New York Yankees (1993-’97) and two seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-’99).
“If you take away any of my time spent with any of the three teams in my career, I’m likely not considered a Hall of Famer,” said Boggs. “It’s a decision they made and I’m fine with it. If the Hall of Fame had picked my Little League cap, I would have been happy with that.”
I really got into baseball back in '93, when Boggs the third baseman for the Yanks. I'll be honest, it wasn't the hitting stats or his defensensive skills that got me hooked, it was his arms and butt. However, one can't (and shouldn't)ignore the stats*:
Major League Debut: April 10, 1982
Boggs reached base safely in an incredible 80% of his games and was the only batter in the twentieth century to have seven consecutive 200-hit seasons. (Wee Willie Keeler pulled off eight straight from 1894 to 1901.) He appeared in twelve All-Star games as a third baseman, second only to Brooks Robinson. In the seven years between 1982 and 1988 he batted .349 or higher six times. In his off-year he hit .325.
Boggs' methodical, perfection-driven approach to hitting was an extension of his methodical personality. The quirky Boggs was one of the most superstitious players baseball has ever seen: he awoke at the same time every morning, ate chicken before every game (Jim Rice nicknamed him "Chicken Man"), and took exactly 150 ground balls during infield practice.
For night games, Boggs stepped into the batting cage at 5:17 and ran wind sprints at 7:17. (Trying to hex him, a scoreboard operator in Toronto once flipped the stadium clock directly from 7:16 to 7:18.) Before each at-bat Boggs would draw the Hebrew word "Chai" in the batter's box, and his route to and from the playing field was so precise that by late summer his footprints were often clearly visible in the grass in front of his home dugouts.
All these automatic routines were the cogs and springs that powered the precise mechanism of his hitting. After getting his first major-league hit against the White Sox' Richard Dotson on April 26th, Boggs set the AL rookie standard with a .349 average in 1982. In '83, the Red Sox traded away Carney Lansford, his chief rival for the third base slot, and Boggs responded with a league-leading .361 average.
That marked the beginning of his seven consecutive 200-hit seasons. His easy left-handed stroke sprayed line drives to all fields, and while he was not known for his power -- in 1985 he set the AL record with 187 singles -- he stroked 24 home runs in 1987 and finished third in the league in slugging percentage. Don Mattingly nearly won the batting crown from him in 1986, but Boggs sat out of the Red Sox' final two games to preserve his .357 average and emerge victorious.
The embarrassing furor that arose after Boggs admitted in 1988 that he had committed adultery never seemed to distract him at the plate -- even when thousands of cutout masks of his mistress were distributed at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. But various injuries (wrist, toe, back, hip) slowed Boggs in his second decade. From 1990 to 1997 Boggs "only" averaged .307, and his low point came in '92 when the Sox finished last for the first time since 1939. Neither Boggs nor his .259 average helped much. A change of scene was the ticket, and Boggs signed with the Yankees after that season.
Boggs was back to his old .300 self in 1993 for the contending Yanks, and made his first of four consecutive All-Star starts in pinstripes. At the age of 36, Boggs won his first Gold Glove in 1994 and repeated the following year. The oldest first-time winner since the award was introduced in 1957, Boggs proved that his persistence and hard work weren't just limited to his magic with the bat. He had come a long way from his rookie year, when he booted the first two grounders hit to him.
But 1996 was the real feather in his cap. Ten years after Boston's agonizing loss to the Mets in the World Series, Boggs found himself back in the Fall Classic. This time his sharp eye and patience at the plate reaped the ultimate dividend. Batting against Steve Avery in the tenth inning of Game 4, Boggs drew a bases-loaded walk to win the game and tie the series. Momentum suddenly belonged to New York, and when the Yankees clinched after Game 6, Boggs led the team in its victory lap -- on horseback, courtesy of the NYPD -- with his fist aloft.
But it was Charlie Hayes, and not Boggs, who made the series-ending catch at third base. In retrospect, it was a telling omen. Boggs only started 88 games in '97 after enduring the worst month of his career, a .143 May. (He did appear in one game as a pitcher against Anaheim, retiring three of four Angels with a knuckler inspired by his childhood hero, Phil Niekro.)
While Boggs heated up to .417 for September, it was too little, too late. The Yanks similarly sputtered, bowing to the Indians in the Division Series, and in the off-season Boggs signed with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Boggs made a splash by socking the first home run in Devil Rays history, and in the relatively low-key environment of his hometown -- he was an all-state kicker on the football team for Tampa's Plant High School -- Boggs seemed virtually assured of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau. He reached the historic milestone on August 7, 1999 with a home run to right field against Chris Haney of the Indians. Boggs kissed home plate after circling the bases. It was the first time in baseball a player's 3,000th hit was a round-tripper. "I love to hit home runs," Boggs had told the New York Times earlier that season. "I was a home run hitter in high school, but then something happened. The parks just got bigger." Shortly after collecting his 3,000th hit, a knee injury put Boggs on the DL for just the third time in his long career. Satisfied with his achievements, the legendary hit machine decided it was time to retire.
Boggs was not considered much of a prospect in the minors, but was well reviewed very early in his career by one Hall of Fame scout. Aged eighteen months, his photo was shown to Ted Williams during a Game of the Week telecast, and Williams called the infant's swing "perfect." (WAG/JGR)
Boston Red Sox (1982-1992), New York Yankees (1993-1997), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-1999)
1986 ALCS, 1986 World Series, 1988 ALCS, 1990 ALCS, 1995 ALDS, 1996 ALDS, 1996 ALCS, 1996 World Series, 1997 ALDS
All-Star (12): 1985-1996; Gold Glove 1994-1995; elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.
#26 (1982-1992), #12 (1993-1999)
Transaction Data (courtesy Retrosheet.org)
June 8, 1976: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 7th round of the 1976 amateur draft; October 26, 1992: Granted Free Agency; December 15, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 11, 1995: Granted Free Agency; December 5, 1995: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 1, 1997: Granted Free Agency; December 9, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Best Season, 1987
Boggs won his third straight batting title (.363) and collected exactly 200 hits. He also drew 105 walks while striking out just 48 times. He lashed 40 doubles, six triples, and 24 home runs (by far his career-standard). Hitting mostly leadoff, he drove in 89 runs and scored 108 times. In '88 he won his fourth straight batting crown.
Boggs collected his 3,000th hit on August 6, 1999, one day after Tony Gwynn had reached the milestone. Boggs became the first player to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit.
28 games (1985, when he hit .402 with 20 runs scored); 25 games (1987, hit .458 with 23 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 12 RBI, and 22 walks); 20 games (in 1986, when he went 34-for-84 for a .405 average)
Boggs hit .344 for his career with runners in scoring position. He also batted .363 with the bases loaded.
*courtesy of baseballlibrary.com