There are a lot of things to be embarrassed about as a Rays fan (Rainbow Warriors unis, The Hit Parade, 9 last place finishes in 10 seasons, Dick Vitale). But the one that has always bothered us more than the others is the retirement of Wade Boggs’ number 12. When people bring this little diddy up to us, we just shake our head in shame. He spent only two of his 18 seasons wearing purple, green, blue, yellow and chartreuse. Of Boggs’ 3,010 career hits, only 210 came with the Devil Rays. He did that in three separate seasons with the Red Sox. In 1999, he had as many GIDPs as doubles (14) and never posted an OPS+ of 100 with the Rays).
Still, with the Rays playing in Toronto, we are reminded of one of the most amazing baseball stories we have ever heard. The following story is why we love Wade Boggs so much and why we refer to beers as “Boggs” (even if we still think it is idiotic that his number is retired).
[An excerpt from Drunk Jays Fans]
For your enjoyment, a conversation between Steve Sandmeyer and Jeff Nelson on 950 KJR:
Sandy: Who would you say drank the most beer out of everyone you ever played with?
Nelson: Easy, Wade Boggs…..easy
Sandy: (laughing) Really!? Wade Boggs?
Nelson: Oh, yeah, without a doubt. I’ve never seen anyone drink as much beer as he did in my life.
Sandy: (laughing) Get outta here, alright, give me an example, like how much did he drink?
Nelson: Oh, I’d say, on a typical road trip, east coast to west coast [Nelly played with Boggs on the Yankees], say a road game to Seattle……Wade would drink anywhere between 50 and 60 beers.
Sandy: NO WAY!! 50 or 60 beers. That is impossible.
Nelson: I’m not kidding you Steve. Seriously. Wade was the kind of guy who was always the first one at the club house. So he’d get to the clubhouse, and he’d bring a six pack with him. He’d be there drinking a beer when someone showed up, and as we were all packing our stuff up out of our lockers and getting our bags ready for the trip, Wade would sit there and drink that whole six pack….Now, at the time, we were flying out of New Jersey, so it was somewhat of a drive from Yankee stadium to the airport in New Jersey. Wade would drink another couple of beers on the bus to the airport. At the time, we were flying this older airplane, it couldn’t make it across the country without refueling, and it wasn’t the fastest airplane in the sky. So we would stop in North Dakota or something. Wade would drink about a half rack between New Jersey and North Dakota, and it would take about a half-hour to an hour to refuel once we got there, so he’d have a few more beers while we were grounded in North Dakota…Once we got back up in the air, Wade would drink another 10, 11, 12 beers on the way out to the west coast. The whole flight from coast to coast ususally took us well over 7 hours. We’d touch down at Sea-Tac, hop on the bus headed to the Kingdome, and Wade would have another beer or two on the bus. Then, all of us would get to the Kingdome and unpack our bags and sit around and BS with each other, and Wade would have a beer in his hand the entire time. He was always one of the last people to leave the club house too. So I’d say that all in all, he drank over 50 beers on the trip, and this wasn’t just an isolated incident, he did that almost every time.
[commercial break: When the commercial end, Paul Sorrento, a former Mariner and Devil Ray, and Boggs’s and Nelly’s former teammate, is on the phone]
Nelly: Alright Paul, we’ve been talking about Wade Boggs up here today in Seattle.
Sorrento: (laughing) Yeah, ole Wade huh.
Nelly: Yeah, alright Paul, I need you to answer one question for me, truthfully now….How many beers would Wade Boggs drink on an east coast to west coast road trip?
Sorrento: Oh, jeez, (exhaling like a flat tire) I don’t know, like 70.
Nelly, Sandberg, Sorrento, Hank: (Rolling on the ground laughing)
This story spawned the “The Boggs Head” on Drunk Jays Fans.
This story never ceases to amaze us. I drink more than my fair share of beer, to the point that most of my friends hate drinking with me because they say I have been cursed with a “high tolerance”. And I’ll be honest, one of my favorite things is “Drink-all-day Day”, but I doubt I have ever even come close to 70 beers in one day. A truly amazing feet. And Boggs did this on a regular basis.
So this weekend, when we toss back a few “Boggs” we will toast the god of baseball drinking, Wade Boggs…and curse the Rays for retiring his number.