What made Wade Boggs a Hall of Famer?
A lot of things, starting with his talent, his determination and dedication, his passion for the game, and his patience at the plate.
The Times has been asking people throughout baseball what impressed them the most about Boggs. Here is some of what they said:
RALPH HOUK, Red Sox manager 1981-84
"Wade made himself a Hall of Famer by hard work. He had a lot of ability, but he did everything possible. He trained as hard and worked as hard as any player I've ever managed."
JOHN McNAMARA, Red Sox manager 1885-88
"He was a very hard worker - very diligent, paid attention to details. He just worked very hard to improve his skills not only as a hitter - which he was a very good one - but also as a third baseman."
JOE MORGAN, Red Sox manager 1988-91
"He made himself good because he wanted to succeed. He had a lot faith in himself. He was a good fielder and had a terrific, accurate arm. As time went on, he became an even better fielder. ... As a hitter, he was just a gifted athlete who knew what he wanted to do at the plate, and went about it that way. He let the ball come to him, and hit the ball behind him a lot. It made him a tough guy to fool. It made him a real good hitter."
BUCK SHOWALTER, Yankees manager 1992-95
"Obviously you think of his consistency and the way he prepared, but also his love for the game of baseball. He loved game day, he loved being in the clubhouse, he loved the travel. It seemed like he was playing his first game of Little League every night. He loved what he was doing, and everything he does, he does with a passion, whether it's hunt, fish, or hit a baseball."
JOE TORRE, Yankees manager 1996-present
"What impressed me the most about Wade Boggs was his tremendous dedication to be the best player he could be. He was very passionate about hitting, and he also took tremendous pride in his defense. I was very proud that I was his manager when he accomplished his goal of a world championship."
LARRY ROTHSCHILD, Devil Rays manager 1998-2001
"I would have to say preparation - mentally getting ready to play at a high level every day. Along with that the knowledge of what he needed to do as far as how he handled things against certain pitchers and his approach."
RICH GEDMAN, former Red Sox catcher
"The thing that comes to mind when I think of what made Wade Boggs so good as a player was his discipline, both at the plate and in preparation to the game. He's one of those guys who was there early, worked on his ground balls. He always was a fantastic hitter, but I think defensively what made him a very, very good third baseman was his willingness to work and improve on his skills."
DON MATTINGLY, current Yankees hitting coach
"What was amazing about Wade Boggs to me was that he never made any changes. He stood in the same part of the batter's box every at-bat. But when he came to us from Boston, he knew he couldn't loft the ball to leftfield off the wall like at Fenway. Those would be outs at Yankee Stadium so he drove line drives to left, taking advantage of the stadium."
TONY PENA, Royals manager
"He was a warrior. He was one of the finest hitters in the game. He played everyday. He did whatever it took to win a ballgame. What impressed me most was his concentration level every single day. I remember one day when Wade Boggs was batting and he followed the ball all the way to the catcher, and then he followed it all the way back to the pitcher. That's how hard he concentrated."
WILLIE RANDOLPH, current Mets manager
"Wade to me was one of the most focused and competitive hitters I've ever been around. Discipline is what comes to mind. He could do a lot of things, but he was steadfast in his approach. He had an idea of what he did best and he had the focus to do it over and over when there was temptation to depart."
HAROLD REYNOLDS, ESPN analyst
"He hit every ball on the nose. It's the most amazing thing I've ever see. Between him and George Brett, I've never seen anybody make more solid contact. One year I think he like six popups to the infield the whole year."
ALAN TRAMMELL, current Tigers manager
"He was the Tony Gwynn of the American League. In our day, he probably had the top batting average of anybody. He's a guy who took the wall at Fenway Park and used it to his advantage. He worked hard at going to the opposite field and he perfected it like no other. That's what made him a special player. He played at a Hall of Fame level for many years."
DEVIL RAYS PERSONNEL
BILLY HATCHER, first-base coach, former teammate
"He wanted to win. Wade was a good player and a real good hitter. I think he was a perfectionist. I've seen the guy go five-for-six and be pissed off he didn't get six hits. I'm serious. He studied the game. People think Wade had talent, that he had this and that, Wade spent a lot of years in the minor leagues. He learned how to hit in the minor leagues. Every day he wanted to get better."
AUBREY HUFF, current player, former teammate
"The fact that he got 3,000 hits when he was called up so late. And his work ethic, just watching him. Even the one year when he was coaching, he was the first one to the field and he was always working out or doing something. The guys was wired to the game. He loved it. That was his whole life."
CHUCK LaMAR, general manager
"His true passion for the game. He loved to play the game of baseball, he loved to put the uniform on, he loved to come to the park and it showed day in and day out. The discipline he had as a hitter is unmatched among the players I've seen. I don't mean just discipline of the strike zone, but his discipline from the first swing of batting practice, his routine, the things he believed in. His discipline for the art of hitting was second to none."
VINCE NAIMOLI, managing general partner
"What really impressed me the most was Wade's tenacity, his perseverance and his focus. And his work ethic. There may have been others who worked as hard, but his work ethic was absolutely impeccable."
LOU PINIELLA, manager
"He really was a disciplined hitter. He didn't strike out much. He hit the ball well with two strikes. And he used the wall at Fenway so well. He was a tough out, really a tough out. There really was no particular way to pitch him and there really was no particular way to defense him. He'd spread the defense because he hit the ball to all fields and he had just enough power to keep the outfield honest. It seemed to me he could serve the ball to the opposite field anytime he wanted to."
DON ZIMMER, senior adviser
"Three-thousand hits. He was a hitting machine. That's the best way I can out it. The guy could hit."
TAMPA BAY AREA PRODUCTS
LUIS GONZALEZ, Tampa native, Arizona outfielder
"Consistency. The way he went out there day in and day out. He got 3,000 hits, he hit .300 regularly. He was Mr. Consistency in the game of baseball."
TONY La RUSSA, Cardinals manager
"I watched him stroke hits for years and years and years. He made hitting well into the .300s seem like it was easy. It wasn't easy. He was a great two-strike hitter. ... The thing about him was he gave you strike one all the time and he hit .360 with two strikes left. You couldn't strike him out. I don't know how he did that."
AL LOPEZ, Tampa native, Hall of Fame manager
"I'm tickled to death. He was a great hitter. There are a lot of good players out there. This is a difficult thing to do."
FRED McGRIFF, Tampa native, current free agent
"The way he always stayed on the ball and hit the ball to leftfield. He always stayed with his game plan. He could have hit a lot more home runs than he did, but he kept going to leftfield getting his hits. Watching him take batting practice, he had a lot of power, but he stayed with his plan. The (Fenway Park Green Monster) got him a lot of hits and made him rich."
JODY REED, Tampa native, former big-leaguer
"Two words - hard work. When I got called up to Fenway to the Red Sox, Wade had already been up there four or five years. He was established and had won a couple batting titles and I knew he was from Tampa so obviously I knew who he was, but what I didn't realize was how hard the guy worked. It was amazing. I really think if you were to say what made Wade Boggs what he is, it's hard work."
GEORGE STEINBRENNER, Tampa resident, Yankees owner
"Wade Boggs was one of the greatest hitters that I have ever seen, and I compliment the Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers Association of America for selecting him on the first ballot. He is very deserving and I could not be happier for Wade, (wife) Debbie and their family."
DICK BERARDINO, former Red Sox coach, instructor
"I think it's consistency - year in and year out having all of those great years of doing things. He made himself into a much better defensive player than when we first signed him. I think that was one of the things in the back of his mind - that as much as he loved to hit, he always wanted to improve defensively and win a Gold Glove. ... He just worked at it and worked at it, and that's what he did with hitting, too. Dedication, really."
RICHIE GARCIA, longtime AL umpire
"What impressed me most was probably his patience at the plate and his knowledge of the strike zone. He had tremendous patience. He was probably the best two-strike hitter in the game. Rico Carty was pretty good, but I think Wade was better. I've never seen a guy get more base hits with two strikes than Wade. He impressed me with his knowledge of the strike zone, his knowledge of what umpires called, and his knowledge of when to swing at certain pitches."
LOU GORMAN, former Red Sox GM
"Wade Boggs is probably one of the most outstanding hitters in Major League Baseball. He was a hard worker, had great work ethic and made himself a very good defensive third baseman. But offensively he's probably one of the most prolific hitters in baseball history."
TONY GWYNN, former big-leaguer and ESPM analyst
"More than anything else what impressed me the most about Wade Boggs was his consistency. His numbers are gaudy - seven straight 200-hit seasons, five batting titles - but to be that consistent is harder than people think. He was like a machine. He was the guy that lots of contact hitters like me were chasing."
ALAN NERO, longtime agent
"His determination was unbelievable. Despite all the negative things said about him during his career, he refused to give up."
JOHNNY PESKY, longtime Red Sox instructor
"He did everything on the baseball field. He knew what he couldn't do, and he worked at the things he couldn't do. ... Boggs was not a lazy player. He's a fine hitter. Christ, he hit anywhere from .330 to .360 every year. He got over 3,000 hits. I think he could get up at four o'clock in the morning and hit a line drive. I just thought he was a hell of a hitter."
MIKE SCHMIDT, Hall of Fame third baseman
"Without question Wade Boggs is a deserving first ballot Hall of Famer. I know I cna speak for Brooks (Robinson), George (Brett) and my fellow third basemen in the Hall by saying, "Wade congratulations and welcome.' "
- Compiled with the help of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
BY THE NUMBERS
Total hits, ranking 23rd alltime
Total singles, ranking 15th alltime
Total walks, ranking 22nd alltime
Total doubles, ranking 14th alltime
Career on-base percentage, ranking 14th alltime
Career batting average, ranking 24th alltime
Hits in 1985, the most in 55 years
Singles in 1985 season, a then AL record
Hitting streaks of 10-plus games
Seasons batting better than .300
All-Star Game selections
Months with an average of .400 or better
Consecutive 200-hit seasons (1983-89), only player this century to do so
Seasons leading AL in on-base percentage, and seasons in which he reached base 300 or more times
American League batting titles
Gold Gloves won for play at third base
World Series rings
THE BEST OF BOGGS
Stadium Hits Avg.
Fenway 1173 .369
Yankee 444 .322
Kauffman/K.C 117 .336
Tiger 113 .317
Metrodome 112 .309
Tropicana 109 .281
Kingdome 107 .320
Angel 106 .326
County/Milw. 106 .299
Municipal/Clv. 98 .331
Team Hits Avg.
Tigers 260 .356
Indians 249 .332
Orioles 241 .319
Mariners 236 .342
Blue Jays 235 .327
Twins 234 .341
Royals 230 .332
ChiSox 216 .332
Rangers 216 .328
Angels 215 .335
Pitcher Hits Avg.
Jack Morris 30 .349
Mark Gubicza 29 .367
Bret Saberhagen 27 .450
Walt Terrell 26 .433
Dave Stewart 26 .366
Charlie Hough 25 .313
Charlie Leibrandt 23 .418
Bobby Witt 23 .365
Bill Krueger 22 .379
Dave Stieb 22 .319
Jimmy Key 22 .297
.Avg. HR RBI
Home .354 70 532
Road .302 48 482
Day .322 36 329
Night .331 82 685
Grass .333 95 812
Turf .306 23 202
Vs. Left .297 29 331
Vs. Right .341 89 683
Pre-ASB .321 70 547
Post-ASB .335 48 467
W/ RISP .323 20 842
W/Loaded .363 4 170
Month Hits .Avg
March 1 .250
April 356 .302
May 485 .327
June 532 .329
July 553 .339
August 572 .330
Sept. 483 .338
Oct. 28 .329