Position: Third baseman
Teams: Boston Red Sox, 1982-1992; New York Yankees, 1993-1997; Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 1998-1999

Some sportswriters liked to concentrate on what Wade Boggs didn't do -- hit home runs, run the bases with blazing speed, or make flashy plays at third base. But what Boggs did was the most important thing in baseball -- get on base better than anyone of his generation. That made him an easy choice for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Wade ate chicken before every game -- just one of his many pregame routines.
Wade ate chicken before every game -- just one of his many pregame routines.

When elected to Cooperstown's shrine in 2005, his first try, Boggs could point proudly to his five AL batting titles, 3,010 hits, and career .328 batting average -- the highest among AL hitters who played primarily from 1950 to 2000. He also posted a .415 on-base percentage. Six times, including five straight from 1985 to '89, he topped the AL in OBP.

A seventh-round draft pick out of high school in 1976, Boggs (born 1958) had to fight his way up the ladder and didn't break into the majors until 1982, when he was almost 24. Making up for lost time, he hit .349 as a rookie and won his first batting crown the next year at .361. From 1982 to 1996, he hit under .300 only once. For eight straight years (1983 to '90), Boggs led the AL in times on bases.

And it wasn't all just singles and walks. Eight times, Boggs hit 40 or more doubles, often tattooing Fenway Park's "Green Monster" with line drives. Twice he topped the AL in two-baggers, and in 1987 (a year in which many players hit for unexpected power) Boggs clubbed a career-high 24 homers.

Pitchers clearly respected him; he was a great hitter in key situations, and six times he was the most intentionally walked man in the league. While never mistaken for Brooks Robinson in the field, Boggs was a hard-working third baseman who eventually won Gold Gloves in 1994 and 1995.

What Boggs couldn't do in Boston was win a World Series, although he did bat .311 in four postseason series with the Red Sox. Signing with the Yankees as a free agent following the 1992 season, he finally got his ring in 1996, when New York beat the Atlanta Braves. Millions of fans still recall the joyous sight of Boggs riding around Yankee Stadium on a policeman's horse in celebration.

Moving to Tampa Bay to close out his career, Boggs batted .301 in his last year, 1999, collecting his 3,000th hit in the process. Oddly enough, the milestone hit was a home run -- off Cleveland's Chris Haney on August 7. After rounding the bases, Boggs got down on his knees and kissed home plate.

Sporting his trademark cowboy boots and handlebar mustache, and surviving on a famous diet that included a different chicken preparation for every meal, Boggs did things his way -- unconventionally, but productively -- on the field and off.

Here are Wade Boggs's major league totals:

BAG
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
.328
2,439
9,180
1,513
3,010
578
61
118
1,014
24

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