On 12/12/12 Let’s Remember the Only Ray to Wear # 12
Depending on where you might live on this big blue marble, the number “12” might have a completely different meaning. Most people who take the easy road and say it is a unit of measure, with 12 doughnuts or other items making a dozen. Other would probably be starting to feel the coolness of the approaching holiday season and immediately start humming the “12 Days of Christmas”. In Tampa Bay, if you are a member of the Rays Republic, 12-12-12 can only mean one thing……3 times the Boggs.
Wade Anthony Boggs is a hometown Tampa Bay product who did his thing in Boston, New York before finally coming home and being a part of the first rendering of the Tampa Bay franchise. Currently over right-center outfield seats on the blue back wall of Tropicana Field sit the number “12” emblazoned on that wall to commemorate the only Rays player ever to see his jersey number retired from the Rays uniform ranks.
One section over and below his enshrined uniform number are the two yellow colored seats in the outfield that also mark the Rays first franchise HR hit by Boggs in the bottom of the 6th inning during the then DevilRays inaugural game on March 31, 1998. A second seat just a few rows up is also where is 3,000th hit, a Home Run landed putting him squarely in the record books at the time as 1 of only 2 MLB player ever to see his 3,000 hit ascend into the crowd for a round-tripper (NYY Derek Jeter did it also for his 3,000th on 6/9/2009).
Sure Boggs may have only played 2 seasons (1/9th of his career) in the Rays uniform and retired after a knee injury in 1999, before pulling on the Rays uniform one last season as their Hitting Coach. Most would view the Rays deciding to retire his number being based more on his past accolades than his Rays tenure, but here was a guy who played at Tampa Plant HS (1976 grad), and still lives in the Tampa Palms section of Tampa, Florida who gave an early generation of young baseball fans someone to idolize and admire as much for his past as his game preparation.
In the spirit of 12-12-12, maybe I should post 12 interesting facts about Boggs you might not have known:
1) Boggs actually played in the longest game in professional baseball history back with the Red Sox Triple-A squad Pawtucket in 1981 that lasted 33 innings and over 8 hours and 25 minutes. Cal Ripken Jr then a SS for the Rochester Red Wings and another Baseball Hall of Fame member also played in this endurance contest.
2) Boggs ranked 95th in 1999 in The Sporting News list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All Century Team.
3) Did you know Boggs was 121 plate appearances short of the required 502 at bats needed to possibly secure a 1982 American League Batting title during his rookie season ( hit.349). Boggs made sure to secure his first title the following season (1983).
4) Did you know Boggs was a member of the 1986 Red Sox squad that saw their World Series title hopes trickle down towards left field against the New York Mets. Boggs did get redemption in 1996 as a member of the New York Yankees when they hoisted their first World Series title in 18 years.
5) Everyone remembers Boggs jumping on the back of that NYPD mounted police saddle after Game 6 of that series, and strolling around the Yankee Stadium turf proclaiming who was #1 while on horseback, but did you know Boggs was weary of horses before his famous jaunt.
6) Boggs also had a pretty good knuckleball that he used 15 times (plus 1 fastball) in shutout inning back in a 1997 game against the Anaheim Angels when he wore pinstripes.
7) Boggs was voted the 5th Most Superstitious Athletes by Men’s Fitness magazine.
8) Boggs once owned a fish camp called “Finway” up off 301 South in Hawthorne, Florida
9) Boggs would take the same route into the dugout basically running from Third to Home Plate and the end of every defensive inning. Boggs drew the Hebrew word “Chai” meaning “life” into the batter’s box before each at bat, which was interesting since Boggs was not Jewish.
10)Every day Boggs took 117 ground balls, took BP at exactly 5:17, and ran pre-game sprints at 7:17. Boggs during his Rays career used to tap his bat head on the shin of his son Brett who was a Rays Bat Boy at the time.
11)Boggs once ventured into the WWF where he did a vignette with WWE icon Mr. Perfect in which Mr. Perfect played baseball. He remained friends with the wrestler and in 2007 Boggs inducted the late Mr. Perfect into the WWE Hall of Fame. Boggs recounted a hunting accident once with Perfect when he carried Boggs after he cut his leg badly on some barbed wire.
12) Everyone knows Boggs did a guest appearance in the “Bar Wars” episode of Cheers where he was sent by a rival bar as an apology, but the Cheers regulars thought he was a fake Boggs. He also appeared in a 2011 episode of Psych entitled “Dead Man’s Cruveball”.
Wade Boggs might not have amassed a long and storied career as a Ray, but he is still and will always be the only man who will have ever won the team’s # 12 jersey. Bogg’s played for 3 different teams during his 18 season career each time sporting his trademark number. If you put them all together doesn’t it spell out 12-12-12?