Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hats Off...Hats Inducted

This Sunday, July 31st the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York will put up the plaques of two of the games greatest. Two players that played the game the right way and got every drip of talent out of their bodies…Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg.

It’s funny to me that I sometimes can judge my own life on the guys that I’ve grown up watching and rooting for. I started becoming obsessed with baseball in 1985 and have never skipped a beat with staying up to date on the game that brings generations together. I remember as a young kid watching games and seeing Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg. Around the same time my Grandpa got me started collecting baseball cards – so what does a 9 or 10 year old do with himself when it gets dark outside or on rainy days? He sits in his bedroom and reads his baseball cards. I memorized stats and places of birth and anything they could fit on those cards. Boggs and Sandberg were already All-Stars who in their own ways were leaving a large mark on the game that I was becoming infatuated with.

I collected both of their rookie cards - 1983 Topps, Donruss and Fleer…I still have eight Sandberg and six Boggs. I remember teasing my Dad that the Phillies (his favorite team) were so stupid for trading the best second basemen in baseball – having been a college second basemen himself, he agreed. I remember watching them both play. Sandberg for the Cubbies and Boggs for the BoSox.

I remember vividly in 1989 when Ryno and Andre Dawson took the Cubs on their backs in the months of August and September as they pulled away from my favorite team, the Mets, and won the NL East division title. Till my last living breath I’ll never forget seeing Wade Boggs holding his chin up with his hands after the last out of the 1986 World Series when the Mets defeated the Sox in Game 7. Two nights earlier Boggs had seemingly locked up Boston’s first World Series since 1918 when he scored in the top of the 10th inning to pad the Red Sox lead to 5-3. I’ll never forget when I came home from school and popped on ESPN and saw that Ryno was retiring in 1994. I remember thinking, “He’s only 34 years old.” I figured he’d be around for another four or five seasons. It wasn’t too long before that when I was appalled that Wade Boggs, a fixture of the Boston Red Sox, had signed a contract with the hated New York Yankees. He would spend five years in New York and helped them win the World Series in 1996 before finishing his career up in his hometown with the Devil Rays. I was equally surprised when I came home from school again and heard the news that Sandberg was coming back to play with the Cubbies for the 1996 season. He only would last for two seasons but the Cubs Nation was thrilled to see him play again, I’m sure.

Boggs was voted in by 91.9% of the possible voters and he deserved it. Wade was a 12-time All-Star and 2-time AL Gold Glove third baseman. He had incredible bat control and a great eye. Boggs won five AL batting titles (83, 85-88), strung together seven consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits, and earned 100 walks in four straight seasons. With his great ability to get on base, Boggs often batted leadoff, and scored at least 100 runs every season from 1983 to 1989 leading the AL three times. Boggs retired with a lofty .328 batting average after the 1999 season and is the only member of the 3,000 Hit Club to have reached the plateau with a home run.

The first #23 of Chicago played the game with graceful defense, very good speed around the sacks and a tremendous capability for power. Ryne Sandberg is right near the top of the list of greats at second base. He was a 10-time NL All-Star and as the NL’s Most Valuable Player in 1984, Sandberg led the Chicago Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945. His terrific range and strong arm, led to nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards at second base, and helped him lead NL second basemen in assists seven times. He led the NL in fielding percentage and total chances four times each. As a hitter Sandberg launched 282 career home runs, and in 1990 he became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby in 1922 to hit 40 homers in a single-season while leading the NL. Ryno was very underrated for his speed and stole 344 bases in his career while also leading the NL in runs scored in 1984, 1989 and 1990.

Two legends of the game will forever have their plagues enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Congratulations guys and thanks for making kids everywhere grow up watching you both while falling in love with this great game.


At 7/28/2005 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was a few years younger than you, but i dont remember boggs batting leadoff??? I felt the same way when clemens joined the yankees. I have bogg's fleer rookie card...last time i checked it was worth like $20. i inherited all my uncles cards, mostly from 1977 to 1980, and have i believe a few sandberg rookies. i miss the email group....sniff sniff

At 7/28/2005 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 real good players. I remember watching them growing up they were always on the All-Star teaams.

At 7/29/2005 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

once football starts there will be no more baseball talk.

At 7/29/2005 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up living and breathing Red Sox Baseball in the same generation. Boggs spent much of the mid-80s as the #2 hitter, but then went to the lead off spot. I remember him telling a story of how supersticious he was, expecially when it came to pre-game meals. He would eat chicken before every game, I don't know how many ways you can cook chicken but woulnd't you get sick of it after a while?

Wade Boggs is a legend, should have been 100%.

At 7/29/2005 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are many yummy ways: bbq chicken, grilled chicken, fried chicken, kung-po chicken, chicken potpie, chicken parmisagne, chicken marsala, teryaki chicken, chicken cordon blu, cajun chicken, chicken tenders, chicken wings, chicken soup
-bubba gump

At 7/29/2005 2:20 PM, Blogger Gregg M. Schmidt said...

Whoever blogged is ABSOLUTELY incorrect about Boggs being a the #2 hitter - he spent almost ALL of his time as the leadoff hitter in the mid-late 80s. Marty Barrett was the #2 hitter behind Boggs from 1984 until 1989...When Jody Reed took over at 2B for Barrett in the '89 season Boggs moved to 3rd with Reed hitting leadoff.

PS - Yes, I am the GREATEST

At 7/29/2005 2:20 PM, Anonymous decentCblogger said...

i heard from 2 reliable sources that they both have very decent C's

At 7/29/2005 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you might like a new blog we're kicking off: Seven Deadly Cynics. Let us know what you think.

- the s.d.c.

At 7/29/2005 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let Jim Rice in. Boggs is a POOR man's Tony Gwynn - nothing more, nothing less. Ryno had limited defensive range and has an inferior mustache compared with Jeff Kent.

At 7/29/2005 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to "anonymous," who tried to perpetrate the myth that boggs was the #2 hitter in the mid-1980s: don't mess with gregg; the kid knows his stuff. shada.


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