By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wade Boggs has been an All-Star, a batting champion and a World Series winner and is likely to be a Hall of Famer.
But how about this one: Wade Boggs, U.S. Olympian.
Boggs, 41, said Tuesday he would be open to the idea of playing for the U.S. Olympic baseball team this September.
"That's probably one of the greatest things you could add to any baseball resume, to play in the Olympics and represent your country," Boggs said. "I think it would be neat."
For the first time, the U.S. baseball squad will include professionals. The original plan was to use top minor-leaguers, but the idea of including at least some recently retired major-leaguers has been gaining popularity.
Bob Watson, the former Yankees general manager who heads the selection committee, said he anticipates a "nice blend" of youth and experience and immediately would add Boggs to the list of candidates.
Other former major-leaguers mentioned include Tom Candiotti, Chili Davis, Orestes Destrade, Gary Gaetti, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Willie McGee, Tom Pagnozzi, Tim Raines and Terry Steinbach.
"They bring something to the table that a lot of the others don't bring, and that's experience. And Wade Boggs brings something else, 3,000 and some hits," Watson said.
"I know Wade well. I had him in New York and I competed against him for years. I know what kind of guy he is. And guys of that caliber don't grow on trees."
Boggs, 41, said he has not pursued the Olympic dream and would be concerned about taking a spot that belonged "to a kid who wanted to be part of that experience." But if the selection committee were to call, Boggs said he definitely would be interested. "I'd be open to suggestion," he said.
The 24 players and six alternates are expected to be named by Aug. 23, with the team going to Australia on Sept. 2 for a two-week "spring training" in advance of the Sept. 17 opening game.
Watson said his group eventually will send out scouts to look at the former major-leaguers, "to see if they're in shape, to see if their skills have eroded, to see if they can help us."
Boggs, who retired at the end of last season, keeps busy as a special assistant to Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar. "I'll have to start taking batting practice again," Boggs said.