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Squashing rumors of Boggs Hall pact

Wade Boggs didn't make a deal with the devil to get in the Hall of Fame.

Or the Devil Rays.

Boggs' election to the Hall and subsequent media blitz spawned a new round of rumors and reports about some sort of agreement he had supposedly made years ago to seek to be inducted as a Devil Ray.

The speculation showed up in plenty of newspapers, starting with the New York Times. And it continued to spread to the point where Hall of Famer, and Hall of Fame board vice chairman, Joe Morgan openly addressed it in an Web chat:

"One of the reasons the HOF took over the cap controversy is there was supposedly a clause in Boggs' contract that he would go in as a Devil Ray and that is not acceptable."


Worthy of discussion even.

But just not true.

"No, no, never," Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli said Friday. "It's absolutely false. There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that we had an agreement with Wade to go into the Hall of Fame as a Devil Ray.

"I'm very pleased with accomplishments that came during his career with the Red Sox and the Yankees, and I'm pleased to see him go in as a Red Sox."

Boggs said as much when asked last week in New York: "Under no circumstances did I agree with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that I was going in as a Devil Ray. I did not make a decision or accept money from any other team in exchange for saying what team I would represent in the Hall."

The Hall issued a news release Friday saying Boggs' plaque will have a Red Sox logo.

Said Boggs: "It's a decision they made, and I'm fine with it."

WADING IN: The Rays plan to honor Boggs before he heads to Cooperstown with a July 22-24 weekend of promotions, including a July 23 first-pitch ceremony. He was elected with a higher percentage of votes (91.86) than Ozzie Smith (91.74), Joe DiMaggio (88.84), Al Kaline (88.31), Mickey Mantle (88.22), Sandy Koufax (86.87), and Ernie Banks (83.81). Boggs said ending his career at home was special. "I don't know if it would have meant the same thing had I gone to play in Tampa Bay in the middle of my career," he said. "To end up playing in front of the people I grew up with, the people who have been watching me since I moved here when I was 11, it was a situation where it was the right time."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: The signing of Alex Gonzalez to play third makes it obvious the Rays plan for top prospect B.J. Upton to open the season in the minors. There are about 10 candidates in the running for the radio announcing jobs, including incumbent Charlie Slowes and occasional fill-in Todd Kalas. Cuts should come within a week. As the market finally calms down, second baseman Alex Cora and a veteran starter, such as Esteban Loaiza or Aaron Sele, may fall into the Rays' price range. In 1998, lower box seats at the Trop were $20 per game. In 2005, they'll be $35 and $45. Negotiations with top draft pick Jeff Niemann appear to be progressing; he can re-enroll at Rice this week. Outfielder Adam Olow, who hit a Northern League record .376 last season in St. Paul and had a five-year independent league average of .331, signed a minor-league contract. Ex-Rays infielder Brent Abernathy signed a minor-league deal with the Twins, and pitcher Delvin James joined the Angels. The Rays didn't have much chance for Tony Batista once he got a two-year, $15-million offer from Japan's Fukuoka Hawks. There was mutual interest with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before he signed with the White Sox.

MISCELLANY: Once Carlos Beltran signs, expect the Cubs to push to trade Sammy Sosa, with the Mets and Orioles most likely. The Reds say they'll go to spring training with four outfielders _ Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey and Wily Mo Pena _ competing for the three spots. The $220-million sale of the Brewers should be approved at this week's owners meeting. There will be more talk about the planned 2006 World Cup, with Naimoli pushing for games in the bay area. Texas pitching coach Orel Hershiser will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year; coincidentally, he suddenly has more time to do interviews with reporters.

Information from other news organizations was used in this report.