Boggs jumpstarts second half of career with Yankees
Every once in a while in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, one franchise’s best switches uniforms and suits up on the other side. Rickey Henderson, Red Ruffing and Babe Ruth all made stops in Boston and New York along their Hall of Fame careers.
On Dec. 15, 1992, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made Wade Boggs another, signing him to a three-year, $11 million contract.
Upon signing, Boggs, who was on a hunting trip and didn’t have access to a phone, released a statement.
“I'm very enthusiastic about being a Yankee and playing for an organization so rich in tradition,” the statement read. “The idea of being able to play in Yankee Stadium and remain in the AL East all factored into my thinking."
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Boggs had been in Boston for 11 years since coming up in 1982, garnering eight All-Star selections and four top-10 MVP finishes. But he was coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in 1992, with a career-low .259 average.
But for Steinbrenner, signing a player with Boggs’ reputation was worth the risk.
“Nobody’s ever going to convince me Boggs won’t have a great year,” Steinbrenner said in the Boston Globe. “Everyone, including Secretariat, is entitled to have one bad race or bad year. Throw that one out. I’m ecstatic the guys got him.”
Boggs did bounce back in 1993. He brought his average back above .300 by two points and drove in 59 runs to win the Silver Slugger Award, the seventh of his career.
In the strike shortened 1994 season, Boggs was even better. He hit .342, his highest since winning the batting title in 1988. His 11 home runs were the second highest total of his career despite only playing 97 games and his OPS was .922. He even won his first of two Gold Glove Awards. It seemed the Boggs from Boston had returned.
In 1996, he helped the Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. He played in four of the six games in the series and drove in two, including the Yankees’ only run in Game 1. In Game 4, Boggs’ pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk brought home the go-ahead run.
The championship was sweet for Boggs, who lost in the World Series in 1986 with the Red Sox, months after his mother died in a car accident.
“You sit there and wonder when you’re going to win a world championship,” Boggs told The Record. “It’s finally buried. I thought about it on the mound and looked up and seeing my mother’s eyes… When that [last] ball went up, I said ‘This one’s for you, sweetie.’ She looked at me and smiled. It’s a great feeling. No one can take it away.”
After New York’s celebratory dogpile on the mound ended, Boggs took a victory lap, hopping on a police horse and riding with the officer around the field.
“I’m deathly afraid of horses,” Boggs admitted in The Record. “I’ve been on a horse one other time and that was for a minute. I was sitting there and hoping the horse wouldn’t buck me into the bullpen. It was a giant thank you for the fans. The officer said, ‘Relax.’ I said, ‘My life is in your hands.’”
Over five years in New York, Boggs hit .313 with an OPS of .803. He was selected to four more All-Star teams and hit his 100th career home run and 500th career double in pinstripes before finishing his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in his hometown.
Boggs was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Evan Gerike was the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development