Wade Boggs | 30 Years Ago this Month
How did Wade feel about the Red Sox organization?
At that point he didn’t have a lot of conversation. He was just so nervous about the whole thing in general. You have to sit there and listen to them say everything… how many errors… they kept dwelling on how many errors he made. And he was not known for his fielding at that time, for not being a good fielder, and he worked hard on it.
Even though he won, he was hurt… It was a very debilitating kind of experience. When he came back to the hotel, he looked like he’d been hit by a train. The first person he called was his father. We ordered pizza delivered — our favorite pizza was double-anchovy pizza. It brought us good luck. I decorated the room for Valentine’s Day, because it was two days before Valentine’s Day. I put on a sexy little outfit, a little apron and garter and stockings, and served him his pizza. I was serving him pizza while he was talking to his father on the phone.
Did Wade call his wife?
Yes. After his father, he called his wife. He was very short with her. It was the perfect excuse for him to say that he really didn’t have much to say to her, because he was upset about everything. He was just going to stay in the room, he was too upset. I comforted him.
At this point, after he won the arbitration, did he have any feelings about the Red Sox organization and what they were trying to do to him?
He thought [General Manager] Lou Gorman was a bastard. It was never good. I said to him, “Will they ever be able to treat you well after this?” And he said, “They never treated me well, anyway.” He spent six years in the minors. And for every year except the first year he hit over .300. He always felt he was given a “bum rap.”
I remember Pete Rose saying publicly, if asked, “You know, you broke Ty Cobb’s record. Is there anybody in baseball that could come close to you?” And he would say, “Wade Boggs.” But you see, Wade Boggs spent six years in the minors that Pete Rose didn’t. Pete Rose came up when he was 19 or so, and Wade didn’t come up until he was 25. He held the Red Sox responsible for that, for keeping him down in the minors when he should have been up in the major leagues. He felt he was being punished for going to arbitration. At the end of the season in ’85, the Red Sox weren’t going anywhere, they were way out. I think they were in fourth place. I remember Wade telling me at batting practice that he was pissed off, and I said, “What’s wrong?” We were on the road and he wasn’t getting any extra batting practice, and he used to do it all the time.
They would only allow something ridiculous, like 20 balls per batting practice, because, he felt, they were trying to limit it because they actually didn’t want him to get his average up anymore. Because the better he did, the more money he would get next arbitration or contract negotiations. So why let him take extra batting practice and get better? It wasn’t going to help the team. They were already out of it.
What about Wade Boggs the baseball player? Was he a team player?
Wade plays for Wade Boggs. He’s a team player when it’s time to go out and party. When he would call at night and I’d be half-asleep, I’d ask how he did, and he’d talk about his hits and what kind of a pitch, what kind of a hit — and even if they won a tough game, if he hadn’t gotten any hits, his mood was horrible. Winning or losing was never that important. Nine times out of ten, I didn’t even ask him. All that was important was how many hits he got. The same way when they lost: If he went 4 for 5, that was the important thing.
How was Wade when he was in a batting slump?
To Wade, 0 for 4 one night is a batting slump. In 1985, when we were in Minnesota, he was hitting .289 and he was quite upset about that. When he went into a slump, I would tease him and say I was going to put him “on waivers.” To go two nights without hits is traumatic to Wade. To get out of the slump, sometimes Wade would do special things with me.
There’d be times when I’d say, “Come on, do you want to do that tonight?” And he’d say, “No, no, I want to save that for when I need it.” One night I went to the game and he went 4 for 5. He found out that I hadn’t worn panties underneath my dress. So for the next couple of months when he went into a slump, he’d ask me not to wear panties to the game. After a game in which he got several hits, he’d say, “Did you wear any underwear tonight?” It wasn’t sexual — it was that he’d gotten hits and wanted to be sure of the little things he had done to get those hits.
Any other magic cures for batting slumps?
There’s a certain kind of chicken he has to have at certain places when he’s in a slump. The Clock in Milwaukee for fried chicken, because there are hits in that chicken. Things have to be served a certain way. Cheesecake with strawberries is bad luck. It has to be plain. Once they accidentally put strawberries on it, and the next day he didn’t get any hits and he freaked out. No strawberries. You’ve got to be very careful when you order room service for Wade.
How far did the superstition go?
As silly as it sounds, I guess at times I was just as superstitious as he was. I called a psychic who gave me readings about Wade and myself. We always felt we’d been together before in a past life, and that in our past lives I had been the man and he had been the woman — that somehow it hadn’t been finished.
Did Wade generally feel you brought him good luck?
Yes. Debbie would go on maybe two road trips, a year, and whenever she went, he’d hit horribly. He’d say, “Well, if I hit badly when she’s with me, then I can use that as an excuse so that she can’t go again.” His average when she was with him was about .221, and his average when I was with him was .341.
Professional athletes often strive for the reputation Wade Boggs developed in his Major League career. As with sports, though, it always comes with a price.
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And So They Say
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