Friday, January 22, 2016
LOVING WADE BOGGS
Every Yankees fan alive in 1996 will forever remember the Yankees first World Series win in almost two decades. Many will remember Jim Leyritz’s huge game tying home run in Game 4 in Atlanta. Many remember John Wetteland jumping into Joe Girardi’s arms following the final out.
But everyone surely remembers Wade Boggs riding on the back of the police horse as they did a victory lap around the perimeter of Yankee Stadium after he earned his much deserved, and only, World Series ring.
The YES Network and one of BYB’s favorites, Nancy Newman, recently did a story on Wade Boggs for Yankees Magazine and what he is currently up to with his life as part of their year-long 20th anniversary of the 1996 Championship.
Boggs is the baseball coach at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. As he said in the YES Network piece, he joined the coaching staff in 2002, leaving his job as the Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach, when his son entered high school and loved it so much he never left.
But what stands out to us Yankees fans is the undeniable contribution he had on the 1996 World Series team, and the years prior to that, as the Yankees went from bottom dwellers to champions.
We all know that Wade Boggs signed with the Yankees prior to the 1993 season after playing for the arch rival Boston Red Sox from 1982-1992. The Red Sox are honoring Boggs this summer by retiring his number, just the tenth number to be retired in Red Sox history. But don’t worry Wade, we don’t hold being on the Red Sox against you. You deserve the honor of having your number forever retired.
While with the Yankees, Boggs was one of the cornerstones of the lineup. While he never hit for a lot of power, Boggs was a hits and on base machine. He batted .311 with a .383 OBP during the Championship season and finished his career with .328 average and a .415 OBP while joining the exclusive 3,000 hit club. During his tenure with the Yankees, Boggs also won two gold gloves and made a diving stab I’ll always remember seeing in person during Jim Abbott’s no-hitter, keeping the no-no intact.
Beyond what he did on the field, one of his greatest attributes was what he did in the clubhouse. Boggs was revered for his leadership qualities and his approach at the plate was an everyday lesson for the younger Yankees as they began their climb to greatness. Boggs was named to his 12th-straight All-Star Game in 1996 as well.
I remember Boggs for his great, patience at-bats and terrific defense over the years. I was just a youngster when Boggs was with the Yankees, but as a fellow lefty, I always admired his ability to go deep into counts and hit the ball the other way. He and Tony Gwynn are two of the hitters that I remember being very controlled and simple with their approach. Boggs is a player you should want to emulate your game after.
Who knows if the Yankees would have achieved their late 1990’s success if it weren’t for Boggs being a clubhouse leader from 1993-1997. Luckily we never have to ask that question. Boggs was a great Yankee, a great Red Sox player and I’m sure a great baseball coach.
If it weren’t for him, Paul O’Neill, David Cone and the other vets, the Yankees may never have developed the team, from the clubhouse to the field, that won them four World Series Championships over just six seasons.
Wade Boggs was truly one of the great players and baseball people of his generation and watching him win the World Series while in pinstripes in something none of us will ever forget.
BYB Senior Writer
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