Boggs' Yankees signing elicits little emotion, either coming or going

December 16, 1992|By Nick Cafardo | Nick Cafardo,Boston Globe

BOSTON -- Wade Boggs is a New York Yankee.

It used to be a sacrilegious thought. Like seeing Yaz in pinstripes or Ted swapped for Joe D. How did Boston Red Sox fans feel about The Babe leaving Boston for the Yanks?

But the life and times of Wade Boggs and his signing yesterday with the Yankees didn't bring that kind of reaction. Not in Boston, nor New York for that matter.

In fact, most of Yankees management didn't even want this conversion to occur.

Boggs, 34, agreed to a three-year, $11 million deal after a week of speculation that he would land in pinstripes. There's no question this is a George Steinbrenner move. The Boss loves Boggs, always has, and many times tried to fashion a way to get him to Yankee Stadium.

"Nobody's ever going to convince me that Boggs won't have a great season," said Steinbrenner, who has close ties to Tampa, Fla., Boggs' hometown. "He'll be tremendous. I think he and [Don] Mattingly will be great together. Here we have two of the three greatest hitters in baseball. Everyone, including Secretariat, is entitled to have one bad race or bad year. Throw that one out. I'm ecstatic the guys got him."

Asked about the organization's lukewarm view of Boggs, Steinbrenner said, "It's healthy for everyone to have opinions."

Is Boggs selfish?

"That's bull," said Steinbrenner. "Does a selfish hitter worry about getting on base? The selfish guy is one who swings from the heels all the time."

Manager Buck Showalter, general manager Gene Michael and Michael's assistants all were either unavailable or issued a "no comment."

And how did the Red Sox feel about Boggs becoming a Yankee? "We wish him the very best," said GM Lou Gorman. "You can't discount all the great years he had for our team. The numbers he put up may never be duplicated.

"We tried to sign him for a fair and very good price in spring training and he didn't seem interested. It got to the point in our situation where we had an up-and-coming third baseman in Scott Cooper and we needed him to play.

"But I don't think Wade will ever be forgotten. His place in history with our franchise is secure."

In the end, the Yankees' management team, headed by Joe Molloy, Steinbrenner's son-in-law, gave Boggs everything he wanted -- a $3 million signing bonus, a $1.9 million salary this season, $2.1 million in the possible lockout year and $4 million in 1995.

"They gave us all the things that the Red Sox wouldn't give us," said Boggs' agent, Alan Nero. "They made Wade feel as though he was special. They made him feel wanted and they made him feel like he can help them in their lineup."

At least some of them did.

"They have to work with what's given to them," said Molloy.

When told that Michael and Showalter had expressed reservations about the signing, Molloy said, "They did, but I said to them that I'm the general partner and I'll make the decision."

Boggs, a career .338 hitter, has hit only .276 at Yankee Stadium, where he'll now bat in the No. 2 spot, behind center fielder Bernie Williams and ahead of Mattingly.

Boggs, who was hunting in Texas and not available for comment, issued a statement through the Yankees that said, "I'm very enthusiastic about being a Yankee and to play for an organization rich in tradition. The idea of playing in the American League East and at Yankee Stadium all factored into my thought process. As a matter of fact, I'm excited about the chance to play with Don Mattingly and my old teammate Spike Owen."

Boggs edged Mattingly for the AL batting title in 1986 when he hit .357 to Mattingly's .352. Mattingly wasn't pleased when Boggs sat out the final four games of the season with a pulled hamstring, a move that led some to accuse Boggs of protecting his average. But Mattingly said all the right things about his new teammate yesterday.

"I think Boggs is an excellent addition," he said. "We'll work well together."

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