Wade Boggs is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, “One of baseball’s toughest outs” reads his plaque in Cooperstown. Yet despite being the only player in the 20th century to have at least 200 hits in seven consecutive seasons, the Red Sox are reluctant to put his uniform number 26 on the right field roof with the likes of Nos. 2, 9, 27, Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams and Carlton Fisk, among others.
Earlier this year Boggs complained of the slight. “I thought when I wore a Boston hat in the Hall of Fame I’d be up there,” he told the Boston Globe. “Am I bitter? It’s been eight years now. I used to be bitter.”
On Aug. 7, 1999, Boggs became only the 23rd player to reach 3,000 hits, and though it came while wearing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniform, 2,098 of his career 3,010 hits were with the Red Sox.
Boggs always attracted weird and unwanted attention — he ate chicken before every game, his road trip companion Margo Adams sued him for palimony, Oil Can Boyd accused him of racism and he mysteriously fell out of a Jeep one year during spring training. The story he once drank 64 beers on a cross-country flight, however, is regarded as one of sports’ top 10 urban legends by bleacherreport.com.
Boggs led the league with 758 plate appearances in 1985, and it was around that time that former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle wrote he was “a selfish singles hitter.”
I was covering the Red Sox in those days and liked to get players’ reactions to negative comments made by the media. What for instance did second baseman Glenn Hoffman think of being named Boston’s worst professional athlete by Boston Magazine?
It was news to him, and he wasn’t terribly upset.
What did Jim Rice think about the article in Sports Illustrated that gave him an ‘F’ in media relations? Rice glowered at me and nearly shouted. “I haven’t read it yet. What’d you think of it?”
Rice explained that some people didn’t know when was a good time to talk to him and when wasn’t, but in those days there was hardly ever a good time to talk with Rice, another story for another time.
As for Boggs, I spotted him walking from the clubhouse to the dugout, his cleats clacking against the hard tunnel surface. He nodded and I said, “Barnicle calls you a selfish singles hitter.”
“He’s an asshole,” said Boggs. He called himself a table setter, the guy that scores off the big bats of Dwight Evans, Ellis Burks and Rice, and indeed Boggs did lead the league in runs in 1988 and 1989.
Boggs’ prospects of ever having his number retired in Boston plummeted after he signed with the Yankees and hopped on a NYPD horse after they won the 1996 World Series. Maybe that was the deal breaker, him in his Yankees uniform circling the Stadium, enemy territory, on his high horse.
This week Boggs was at Marlins Park in Miami helping clean the aquariums as part of an ongoing television series about doing the dirty work at America’s best ballparks. Maybe the Red Sox will hire him to venture onto the roof and put his number next to the others, but for now it’s only a dream job.
It’s no surprise that Jacksonville Jaguars trainer Mike Ryan has inquired about how to enter the annual 7.6-mile Mount Washington Road Race. Ryan’s a fitness buff who’s competed in multiple marathons and triathlons. We have the answer, but first a little history. The race is the property of a business entity called Mount Washington Auto Road.
“They built the road 150 years ago and have a lease in perpetuity from the state,” explained race director Josh Nemzer.
A management organization called Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE) runs the event. McGillivray is the race director of the Boston Marathon and a renowned long distance runner.
According to Nemzer, each year the 900 openings to run Mount Washington are decided by lottery. “Depending on interest, sometimes the odds are 1 in 2, sometimes 1 in 3.”
For more information for the lottery that begins in February, go to mounttwashingtonroadrace.com.
Jordan Dow of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School will be enrolling for a postgraduate year at NMH this fall. Named All-Scholastic in hockey and lacrosse by the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, Dow had 43 goals and 30 assists for this year’s Warriors lacrosse team.
Tiger Woods has won five tournaments and leads in PGA earnings with $5.9 million.
Not Rory McIlroy, who’s 45th, nor one-time PGA Championship winner David Toms (150th) or Masters winner Vijay Singh (158th). And certainly not John Daly, everybody’s favorite misfit who has earned a meager $43,453, barely enough to pay for his cigarettes.
Give up? Matt Kuchar is second with $4.39 million in his pocket. Which begs the question, who is Matt Kuchar?
Matt Kuchar is the reason why the television sponsors pray that Tiger Woods keeps it together.
Squibbers: Bob Diamond reports a Marty Tirrell sighting this week. The Mouth of the Midwest was back in town to take in some western Mass. scenery before heading back to the Iowa cornfields. ... Let’s put the National Security Agency to work on the baseball mound, breaking the code of what pitchers are saying through the webbed fingers of their baseball mitts. ... Prior to Tuesday’s game at Target Field, the Twins presented Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera with a chair made of broken baseball bats called “The Chair of Broken Dreams” in recognition of his 33 saves against the Twins. ... The Brooklyn Nets’ odds of winning the NBA title went from 40-1 down to 10-1 after their megadeal with the Celtics. ... Dave Jennings died of Parkinson’s last month. A punter-turned-broadcaster, Jennings’ kicks for the Giants and Jets traveled 47,567 yards, more than 27 miles.
This Wednesday would have been Mel Blanc’s 106th birthday. The man of a thousand voices delivered the perfect tone and inflection into the dialogue of cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn. Three words are written on his tombstone: “That’s All Folks.”
Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.