Wade Anthony Boggs (born June 15, 1958) is an American former professional baseball third baseman. He spent his 18-year baseball career primarily with the Boston Red Sox, but also played for the New York Yankees, with whom he won a World Series ring against the Atlanta Braves, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, with whom he reached 3,000 hits. His hitting in the 1980s and 1990s made him a perennial contender for American League batting titles. He is 33rd on the list of career leaders for batting average among Major League Baseball players with a minimum of 1000 plate appearances. Boggs was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
With 12 straight All-Star appearances, Boggs is third only to Brooks Robinson and George Brett in a number of consecutive appearances as a third baseman. In 1997, he ranked number 95 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Boggs, a 1976 graduate of Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, currently resides in the Tampa Palms neighborhood of Tampa.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three sons of Sue and Winfield K. Boggs, Wade had a regimented military upbringing. Winfield and Sue met in 1946 at a military base in Georgia. Winfield served with the Marines in World War II and flew for the Air Force in the Korean War while Sue piloted mail planes in World War II. The Boggs family lived in several different places (including Puerto Rico and Savannah, Georgia) before settling in Tampa, Florida when Wade was 11 years old. He attended Plant High School in Tampa, where he played baseball and was an All-State football player as a senior. Boggs played quarterback until senior year when he switched positions to avoid injury and thereby protect his baseball career. His success as a left-footed placekicker and punter earned him a scholarship offer from the University of South Carolina. He graduated from Plant High School in 1976 and was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the seventh round of the 1976 MLB draft on the advice of veteran scout George Digby. He signed with the club for $7,500.
Minor league career
Boggs played in the longest game in professional baseball history as a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1981 against Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Rochester Red Wings. "The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted for 33 innings over eight hours and 25 minutes. 32 innings were played from 18 to 19 April 1981 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island." During his last year in the minor leagues with Pawtucket, he led the league with a .335 batting-average, 167 hits, and 41 doubles.
Major league career
Boston Red Sox
A left-handed hitter, Boggs won five batting titles starting in 1983. He also batted .349 in his rookie year which would have won the batting title but was 121 plate appearances short of the required minimum of 502. From 1982 to 1988, Boggs hit below .349 only once, hitting .325 in 1984. From 1983 to 1989, Boggs rattled off seven consecutive seasons in which he collected 200 or more hits, an American League record for consecutive 200-hit seasons that was later matched and surpassed by Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. Boggs also had six seasons with 200 or more hits, 100+ runs and 40+ doubles. Although he would not win another batting title after 1988 (his batting title that year broke Bill Madlock's Major League record of four by a third baseman), he regularly appeared among the league leaders in hitting.
In 1985, Boggs had 72 multi-hit games, a club record.
New York Yankees
In 1992, Boggs slumped to .259 – one of only three times in his career that he failed to reach .300 – and at the end of the season he left the Red Sox, with whom he had spent his entire career to that point. He was heavily pursued by two teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the arch-rival of the Red Sox, the New York Yankees – he chose the Yankees when they added the third year to the contract that the Dodgers would not offer. Boggs went on to be awarded three straight all-star appearances, had four straight .300-plus seasons, and even collected two Gold Glove Awards for his defense.
In 1996, Boggs helped the Yankees win their first World Series title in 18 years, which became his only world title. In the series' fourth game, which saw the Yankees rally from six runs down to win, Boggs was called on to pinch hit in the tenth inning and using the batting eye he was known for throughout his career, he coaxed a bases-loaded walk out of Steve Avery which gave the Yankees the lead in a game they went on to win 8-6. After the Yankees won the series in game 6, Boggs memorably celebrated by jumping on the back of an NYPD horse, touring the field with his index finger in the air – despite his self-professed fear of horses.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Boggs signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the final two seasons of his career. He hit the first home run in Devil Rays history, in the 6th inning of the inaugural game on March 31, 1998. On August 7, 1999, he collected his 3,000th hit with a home run. Despite his reputation as a singles hitter with limited power, he is one of only three players whose 3,000th hit was a home run, followed by Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011, and Alex Rodriguez on June 19, 2015. Boggs retired in 1999 after sustaining a knee injury, leaving with a career batting average of .328 and 3,010 hits. Two yellow seats among the rest of the Tropicana's blue seats mark where both historic balls landed in right field, each with a small metal plate noting it as the area that the ball landed.
|Wade Boggs's number 12 was retired by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000.|
|Wade Boggs's number 26 was retired by the Boston Red Sox in 2016.|
His career paralleled that of Tony Gwynn, who also debuted (in the National League) in 1982. Boggs and Gwynn were the premier contact hitters of their era. They both won multiple batting titles—Boggs's five and Gwynn's eight—and each won four straight to join Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Rod Carew as the only players to do so. Gwynn and Boggs each hit over .350 in four straight seasons, the only players to do so since 1931. They joined Lou Brock and Rod Carew as the only players whose careers ended after World War II who finished with 3,000 hits and fewer than 160 home runs.
Boggs recorded one inning pitching at the Major League level. His main pitch was a knuckleball, which he used 16 times (along with one fastball) in one shutout inning for the Yankees against the Anaheim Angels in a 1997 game.
On December 21, 2015, the Red Sox announced that they would retire Boggs's number (26). The ceremony was held on May 26, 2016. Boggs occasionally appears in the Yankees' annual Old-Timers' Day, a celebration of past Yankees in which the players play a multi-inning game of baseball at Yankee Stadium.
His own style included mental preparedness techniques, which consisted in visualizing four at-bats each evening before a game and imagining himself successfully getting four hits.
As of June 8, 1986, over the course of the previous 162 games (equivalent to a full season, though across two seasons) Boggs was hitting .400, with 254 hits in 635 at-bats.
In 1987, Boggs – who was up for a new contract following the season – hit 24 home runs, the most in any year of his career.
Boggs was known for his superstitions. He ate chicken before every game (Jim Rice once called Boggs "chicken man"), woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 117 ground balls in pre-game practice, took batting practice at 5:17 pm, and ran sprints at 7:17 pm, to increase his chances of "going 7-for-7". His route to and from his position in the field beat a path to the home dugout. He drew the Hebrew word "Chai", meaning "life", in the batter's box before each at-bat, though he is not Jewish. He asked Fenway Park public address announcer Sherm Feller not to say his uniform number when he introduced him because Boggs once broke out of a slump on a day when Feller forgot to announce his number.
Life outside baseball
The Margo Adams affair and palimony lawsuit
Boggs garnered non-baseball related media attention in 1989 for his four-year extramarital affair with Margo Adams, a California mortgage broker. After Boggs ended the relationship in 1988, Adams filed a $12 million lawsuit for emotional distress and breach of oral contract. She argued that Boggs had verbally agreed to compensate her for lost income and services performed while accompanying Boggs on road trips. Boggs' reputation was further sullied when Adams agreed to an interview with Penthouse magazine in which she discussed intimate details of her time with Boggs. While acknowledging the affair, Boggs went on the offensive in order to combat the wave of negative press, denying many of the claims made by Adams. Boggs' rebuttal included an appearance on the ABC program 20/20 in which he presented his side of the story to Barbara Walters. In February 1989, an appeals court threw out $11.5 million of the initial lawsuit, ruling that Adams could not seek compensation for emotional distress. The remaining demand for $500,000 was settled out of court later that year for an undisclosed amount.
Hall of Fame plaque cap logo controversy
Before his retirement, Boggs was plagued by newspaper reports that the expansion Devil Rays gave him financial compensation in return for selecting a Devil Rays cap for his plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame, though he has denied that any such condition was part of his contract. In light of those reports (and other rumors that teams were offering number retirement, money, or organizational jobs in exchange for the cap designation) the Hall decided in 2001 to change its practice of deferring to players' wishes regarding cap logo selection, and reinforced the Hall's authority to determine with which cap the player would be depicted. Boggs is wearing a Boston cap on his plaque.
Boggs' mother died in June 1986 due to a car accident in Tampa while he was with the Red Sox. Shortly after her death, Boggs and his father bought a fish camp on U.S. 301 just south of Hawthorne, Florida, that they named Finway; his father operated it until shortly before he died. Wade and his wife Debbie have two children, Brett and Meagann.
As a baseball player, Boggs made an appearance for the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1988. He appeared in a vignette with wrestler Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) in which Perfect played baseball. The two remained good friends afterward and 19 years later in 2007, Boggs inducted the late Perfect into the WWE Hall of Fame. In the DVD The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect, Boggs related how Hennig saved his life, carrying Boggs to help after he had severely cut his leg climbing over a broken barbed wire fence during a hunting trip.
Boggs was one of the baseball players featured in the classic The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat", in which he was recruited as a ringer by Mr. Burns for the Power Plant's softball team, only to later be knocked out in a bar fight (over whether Lord Palmerston or Pitt the Elder was the United Kingdom's greatest Prime Minister) by Barney Gumble. Boggs appeared as himself in the episode "Bar Wars" of Cheers, in which he was sent to the bar as an apology by a rival bar. He was accosted by the regulars who thought he was a fake. David Levine revealed in 2009 that Boggs had promised to trade Adams' panties for Kirstie Alley's. In Seinfeld's "The Chaperone", George convinces the Yankees to switch to cotton uniforms, assuring manager Buck Showalter that the Bombers would be "five degrees cooler than the other team." Wade Boggs was quoted as saying: 'What a fabric! Finally we can breathe.'
In 2011, he also appeared in the Psych episode "Dead Man's Curveball". In 2015, Boggs guest starred in the Season 10 premiere of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where characters in the show tried to drink over 70 beers while flying across country: allegedly emulating a feat Boggs once accomplished during his career. Boggs denied that the number of beers was 64, and he reportedly told Charlie Day that he drinks 107 beers a day.
Oil Can Boyd's accusation of racism
Former Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd was on a book tour to promote his new autobiography and was on the Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI, when he claimed that Boggs was a bigot and would call him the n-word every day to his face in the clubhouse. Boggs vehemently disputed the claims, asserting "Absolutely, positively, 100 million percent, I am not a racist. I am not a bigot." Referring to Boyd, who has admitted to frequently using cocaine and marijuana, Boggs noted, "You have a delusional drug addict who let not only his family down, but his team, the city of Boston, Red Sox Nation when it counted most. Now he wants the good people of Boston to go out and spend money on this garbage to support his habit. I find that extremely amusing."