Butch Hobson was the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox. Any talent Butch lacked was made up for by his scrappy and aggressive playmaking. These attributes made Butch a crowd favorite.
I was a new Tampa Bay transplant from New England and an avid Red Sox fan. At my new job, I met Win Boggs - father of a minor-league third baseman in the Boston organization named Wade. As a typical know-it-all Red Sox fan, I felt compelled to explain to Mr. Boggs that his son had better hope to be traded, since there was no chance he'd make the Red Sox as long as Hobson was there.
The gentleman that he is, Mr. Boggs just smiled.
-- Ken Braids, Seminole
WADE A MAN ON, OFF FIELD
In Levittown, N.Y., raising five children in five years gave me no time to read the sports pages while Wade Boggs was with the Yankees. All I knew was that he was a great, consistent hitter.
In 1998, unbeknownst to me, my twin son Jim sent a letter to the Devil Rays asking if I could be honored with throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in recognition for being selected as the 1997 Florida female senior athlete of the year. When asked whom I'd like to meet from the team, my request was Wade Boggs. I knew he would become a future Hall of Famer.
Wade was very friendly and obliging, allowing my daughter to photograph us together. He promised to autograph the photo at a later date, and was a man of his word.
-- Ethel L. Lehmann, Largo
WADE'S BANANA BOAT
Wade and I played baseball together at Plant High School in Tampa. But one of the funniest and most memorable moments happened on a fishing trip to Costa Rica.
My friend Dave Stanley and I had planned this trip, and remembering that one of Wade's passions was fishing, we invited Wade and Debbie to join us. Unfortunately for Wade, his superstitious nature follows him everywhere.
There is a long standing superstition for most fishermen that you don't bring bananas on a fishing boat. They're just bad luck. So early on the morning of our outing, I told the chef at the lodge to have one of the mates hide a banana aboard Wade's boat. Unaware of the superstition, the mate complied.
While I was having a great day fishing (we caught, I believe, 12 sailfish), I had to wonder how Wade's day was going. We returned to the lodge and waited for the other boats to return. Finally Wade and Debbie arrived and you could see in Wade's expression that they had not had a good day. Everyone else was talking about how many sailfish they had caught, and being the competitor that he is, you could see Wade's pain.
Eventually, the banana rumor made it back to Wade. Until now, he never knew who got him that day. Sorry, Wade.
-- Mark Thompson, St. Petersburg
IT'S STILL A KIDS' GAME
I was the groundskeeper at Huggins-Stengel baseball complex in St. Petersburg in the early '90s. Wade Boggs, then with Boston, had a hitting school with Jay Ward (hitting coach with the Blue Jays) before spring training, and I had brought my oldest son, Tony, for a father/son workday at the ballpark.
I had to run an errand and came back a half hour later to discover Wade had signed four baseballs and my son's glove. The kid was in heaven.
A week later I discovered one of the signed "Boggs" balls in the bushes in front of the house. I thought, "You're out playing street ball with a Hall of Famer's autographed ball?" But it brought back memories of putting a future Hall of Famer's baseball card in the spokes of my bike.
Wade Boggs was always a gentleman, a class act and one of the great hitters in the game.
-- Bob Spittle, St. Petersburg
[Last modified July 31, 2005, 01:33:10]