Boggs honored by his Hall status
2005 inductee excited about upcoming weekend
TAMPA -- Getting elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame is the greatest honor a Major League player can achieve.
Wade Boggs found out in January he would be enshrined this summer and he has been enjoying the ride ever since.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Boggs during a recent interview. "It's been everything I thought it would be and then some. It's really been special."
Boggs will be enshrined during a ceremony July 31 at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
One of the things Boggs has especially enjoyed is the status of his new designation.
"Getting elected dropped that word 'future,'" Boggs said. "That is probably the nicest part about it. Now they don't have to refer to me as 'future Hall of Famer.' Now it's legit. And I'm one of 198 members of the Hall of Fame. So it's very rewarding."
During his playing career Boggs won five American League batting titles en route to accruing 3,010 hits and a .328 lifetime average. He retired after the 1999 season and became eligible for election to the Hall of Fame for the first time in January. After the ballots had been counted, the ledger read 474 votes for Boggs, which translated to 91.9 percent of the ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- the third-highest vote total since ballots were first cast in 1936.
Joining Boggs on this year's docket is Ryne Sandberg. Seemingly the pair has been joined at the hip since the announcement of their election.
"We've been doing a lot of stuff together," Boggs said. "Just about every show we do together. Ryne's my wingman. I couldn't have a better guy to go in with. Our wives have gotten to know each other very well and I had to go out to Phoenix with my dad, he had a stomach aneurysm. We spent some time over at the Sandbergs for dinner and things like that in Phoenix. We've been doing a lot of things together and the girls have been emailing each other back and forth and trying to coordinate various things. It's been neat."
Boggs said his father's health appears to be doing well and he'll be in Cooperstown for his son's induction.
Boggs' busy schedule has included a lot of memorabilia shows around the country, where his new status has accorded him an elevated profile.
"You've got to complete that next piece of the puzzle that all the collectors have at the shows and various events like that," Boggs said. "And you're called upon to do a lot of those shows. And you'll be at the grocery store and some guy will bring up his Hall of Fame bat, something like that. 'Hey, would you mind signing it? This and that.' And all of these people when they'd bring it up before I got in the Hall of Fame, I wouldn't sign it. That was a superstition, but now, doing the shows, I'll sign it. The shows have been packed. We're getting a good response.
"Getting elected to the Hall is the highest honor you can receive as a Major Leaguer. Naturally when you do shows or you're at a banquet or something and you're just a retired baseball player, it carries a little weight. But when you walk into a room and then they go, 'There goes Hall of Famer Wade Boggs,' it gives a little more substance to being somebody. I thought I was recognized before the Hall of Fame, but now, afterwards, it's everywhere, which is good. I don't mind it at all."
Besides the shows, Boggs has had other demands created by his election.
"There have been a lot of media requests," Boggs said. "I knew that that would be a part of it. Every other day, you're doing something media-wise. Answering eight million, zillion questions. But it's been fun."
Boggs said the adrenalin is building in anticipation of Hall of Fame week.
"You just sort of can't wait for the moment," Boggs said.
Like all Hall of Fame inductees, Boggs will make a speech during the ceremony.
"I'm well into it and trying to put it together," Boggs said. "It's not the easiest thing I've ever done. Hopefully it will work."
Boggs' contingent at Cooperstown will be between 120 and 130 friends and family members from all over the country, and primarily his hometown of Tampa.
Boggs laughed about the rowdy composition of some of his Tampa friends and said Cooperstown might never be the same after their visit.
"I'm telling you [Cooperstown] might not be," Boggs said. "I'm telling you, that's for sure. I don't think they've seen anything the likes of this."
While the journey between the time he was elected until the induction ceremony has been a delight, Boggs anticipates the really special memories to come during the week of the Hall of Fame ceremony.
"With all the old-timers and all the Hall of Fame members there," Boggs said. "They call us the babies on the block. That will probably all happen that week with all of those guys around and their stories. But nothing really has stood out so far."
A lot of Boggs' career has flashed before him in the months since his election. Among all the thoughts entering his mind, he said one resonates most.
"The one thing I constantly think about is how did I make it to the Hall of Fame?" Boggs said. "I understand about the 3,000 hits and everything like this, but so many people told me that I couldn't make the Major Leagues. All of that is coming back and now I feel like, 'You know what? I did make it.' And not only made it to the big leagues but made it to the Hall of Fame and that's the one thing I'm probably the most proud of: that a guy they said couldn't do anything made it to the highest honor a baseball player could ever receive. That's probably the one thing I'm most proud of."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.