Former Deadspin editor Will Leitch has come up with an admirable way to pay tribute to the former players of his favorite franchise while avoiding a jinx on their chance at a division crown. The St. Louis Cardinals hold a 9.5 game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central. With 18 games remaining in the season, that puts their magic number at 11. Rather than stating his team's daily number, Leitch substitutes the name of a former Cards player who wore that day's magic number on his uniform. I am stealing this idea.
Five facts about Wade Boggs:
- Boggs collected four hits as a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in the longest professional baseball game ever played in 1981. Pawtucket beat the Rochester Red Wings 3-2 in 33 innings. The game started on April 18, was suspended due to curfew, and was resumed and finished on June 23. Boggs played third base for all 33 innings and had 12 plate appearances.
- Boggs hit just 108 home runs in his career, but he is the only one of the 27 members of MLB's 3,000 hit club to reach the milestone with a homer. Boggs collected that hit as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. The season before, Boggs had hit the first home run in the history of the Devil Rays organization. He also hit 22% of his career dingers in 1987 (24), the last year of one of his contracts with the Boston Red Sox. He never hit more than 11 home runs in any other of his 18 seasons.
- Boggs hit .259 in 1992 after hitting at least .302 for 10 straight seasons to start his career with Boston. The Red Sox didn't re-sign him and the Yankees beat out the Dodgers to sign Boggs to their roster. Boggs went onto hit at least .300 for the next four seasons, earning three all-star appearances and the only two Gold Glove Awards of his career. He also helped lead the Yankees to the 1996 World Series Championship, their first title in 18 years.
- Boggs has a career ERA of 3.86. He pitched in relief for the Yankees against the Angels in a 1997 game. He threw 17 pitches, 16 of them knuckleballs as he got three outs while allowing just one walk and striking out one. He pitched again in 1999, his final season. He came on in relief as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, allowing one hit and one earned run in an inning and a third of work.
- Boogs created a stir around the time of his retirement when it was reported that Tampa Bay was going to compensate him if his Hall of Fame plaque bore a Devil Rays hat. The Hall of Fame quelled the controversy in 2001 by revoking the right of the inducted athlete to select which cap he would wear on his plaque. Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, his plaque sports a Boston hat.