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A legend, not an old-timer

Tampa resident and Hall of Famer Wade Boggs hosts the Baseball for Kids weekend. He shared his thoughts about the legends game and baseball with Times staff writer Marc Topkin.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 23, 2007


Tampa resident and Hall of Famer Wade Boggs hosts the Baseball for Kids weekend. He shared his thoughts about the legends game and baseball with Times staff writer Marc Topkin.

So what is the most fun part of playing in a legends game?

Trying to figure out whether or not you can still play.

And why is it called "legends" game now? What was wrong with "old-timers" game?

We don't like that phrase. That's probably the one reason why somebody changed it. Some of us aren't that old. We like to be referred to as legends instead of old-timers.

Who from this group are you most looking forward to seeing?

A majority of the guys return each and every year, so it's always good to catch up with them. I haven't seen Gaylord Perry in a couple of years, and I'm anxious to see if he still has that Santa Claus beard.

Are there any rules on how seriously guys take this kind of game?

The one rule is that when Bob Feller is pitching, you don't hit the ball back up the middle. We don't want to get Bob hurt out there. Quite a few of these guys look like they can still play. Guys like Jim Leyritz and Kevin Bass, they get after it, especially Leyritz.

Any advice for Urban Meyer?

Don't get hurt. You don't want to pull a Joe Paterno and have to sit up in the press box. He's a national champion. He's doing all right.

You've got this guy from American Idol, Ace Young, playing. If there was a baseball version of American Idol, what would you sing and how would you do?

I'd probably drop a Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, on them. That's a good question because I've never really heard too many guys sing around the clubhouse.

Not even Aubrey Huff when you were with the Rays?

No, and that was probably a good thing.

Are there privileges that come with Hall of Fame membership?

Nothing really. I don't think it opens that many more doors than my playing career did. It's not like you get to cut in line at restaurants or anything. It just makes you poke your chest out a little more when someone introduces you as a Hall of Famer.

When Dale Murphy was here for the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame induction, he said that he didn't consider Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's record too exciting because of the choices Bonds made. What are your thoughts?

I think when you've got a situation where Major League Baseball and Bud Selig and sponsors aren't making plans and Bud Selig is saying he doesn't know if he will be there, that's a strong statement. There's just all these allegations swirling around Bonds' head about steroids and lying to the grand jury and with BALCO, it just puts a bad taste in your mouth. Unfortunately, it's a situation he has to go through. What it just gets down to is when you make your bed you have to lie in it.

You've played and worked for the Devil Rays, and you live here in the area. What's it going to take for them to be successful?

About $60-million (in payroll). There's 60-million reasons for them to get out of the cellar. You've got to try to keep up with the Joneses.

Gator at the plate

Florida football coach Urban Meyer already has had a pretty good year, winning a national title. Sunday, he'll take a break from spring practice to live out another dream. Meyer, who played two minor-league seasons in the Braves organization after high school, will join dozens of former big-leaguers in Sunday's legends game. He apparently made the right choice going into coaching, having hit .180 as a shortstop.

What

Exhibition featuring former major-leaguers, some Bucs and celebrities.
When Sunday, batting practice at 5 p.m., home run derby at 6, game at 6:45.
Where Bright House Networks Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.
Tickets $5 (berm), $10 (field box), $12 (premium box), $25 (club); available at the stadium box office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., online at www.phillies.com or by calling (727) 467-4457.
Why Part of the Baseball for Kids Weekend, hosted by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs and staged by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to benefit All Children's Hospital.
Scheduled participants
Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Bob Feller, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry
Former players Kevin Bass, Glenn Beckert, Jack Billingham, Tom Browning, Doug Creek, Orestes Destrade, Dick Drago, Ryne Duren, Darrell Evans, Rich Folkers, Bob Forsch, Ken Frailing, Goose Gossage, Mudcat Grant, Von Hayes, Tommy John, Darold Knowles, Dave LaPoint, Ron LeFlore, Al Leiter, Jim Leyritz, Andy McGaffigan, Denny McLain, John O'Donoghue, Dennis Rasmussen, J.R. Richard, Ron Robinson, Jim Rooker, Joe Sambito, Richie Scheinblum, Anthony Telford, Brian Tollberg, Jon Warden
Former manager Danny Ozark
Celebrities Matt Bryant (Bucs kicker), Kevin Maris (son of Roger), Daniel Lee Martin (musician), Michael Pittman (Bucs running back), Michele Smith (U.S. softball star), Greg Spires (Bucs defensive lineman), Pat Williams (Orlando Magic executive), Ace Young (American Idol contestant).
Special guests Eight players from the U.S. Military All-Stars baseball team, a group of active military from all of the branches that travels raising money for emergency packs to send to soldiers in combat. Plus, 20 soldiers will be sworn in on the field after the home run derby. Katie Thai, 6, of Valrico, representing Florida patients in the Children's Miracle Network, will sing the anthem.
Other events Saturday - Dinner and auction at the A La Carte Event Pavilion, Tampa (sold out); Sunday - Youth baseball clinic, 5 p.m. at the Carpenter Complex, Clearwater; Monday - Golf Classic, 9 a.m. at Avila Golf & Country Club, Tampa.
Autograph signings Sunday, at Champs Sports in Tyrone Square Mall, St. Petersburg; Gary Carter and Denny McLain, 12:30 to 2 p.m., Wade Boggs and Jim Palmer, 2 to 3:30. Tickets are $20-$80 depending on player and item and go on sale at 11 a.m. at the store. American Idol's Ace Young also will appear from 2 to 3:30 and will sign and pose for photos for a $5 donation.