Happy Birthday, Wade Boggs! He would have been 60.

Wade Boggs tagged out at home in 96

Orioles catcher Mark Parent, right, tags out the Yankees’ Wade Boggs during the third inning of Game 5 of the ALCS at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Oct. 12, 1996. (Photo: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)

My week working the ’96 ALCS

I had the pleasure of “working with” Wade Boggs and the New York Yankees during the 1996 American League Championship Series. I was working for NBC Sports as an Audio2/A2 for the games at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. My roommate Bob Mellor was on the gig, too, as a Camera Utility. It was a fun shoot. We had worked on many Orioles games that season, but this series was different. Winner goes to The World Series. We might get to work The World Series! I was so excited. Bob and I pretty much stuck with a Camera Op-Johnny Fortune, and supported him. It was cool working with Johnny again. We had met him on the 1996 Olympic Trials when it was shot in Baltimore. We all worked on Pro Beach volleyball. It was terrible. (wink). Bob and I were A2’s on that, too. This series was pretty much the same as the Olympics- I’d hand Jim Gray or Bob Costas the mic every once and awhile, otherwise stay out of the way.

Meanwhile, in the Pumpkin Patch. 

A bulk of our time was spent in the bullpen. For me, it meant sitting on some steps, watching the game. I’m sitting there and I feel something hit me. As I scan the ground, I see it’s a pumpkin seed. Slowly, I turn around and the Yankees pitchers start laughing. I picked up a seed and tried to shoot it back. It went way left. I tried another, to no avail. They laugh. I guess when this is your job for 160 games, you get good at pumpkin seed shooting. The next game we come in and I make a field goal, like for football. It’s 2 foot tall and a foot wide. I’m going to hold it up when they start shooting seeds at me. I make some cards with numbers on it, to keep score. I hang those off of the bottom bar of the field goal. We go out to the bullpen, I tape it to the railing and the Yankees love it. They shoot, I tally the score. We even went to commercial with a shot of it, with me reaching up to flip the score.

Yes, sir. Mister Wade Boggs!

Then, I caught a Ground Rule Double and pocketed it for my girlfriends son. There was a bunch of little kids calling me names, because they wanted me to throw it up to them. I kinda felt bad, almost. I had stood back up to pretend to throw the ball at the kids, while the batter was in the box and it was deemed a distraction. As I sit back down I see that as a result, the home plate umpire has called time and is kicking my camera and crew out for delaying the game- oh, bloody hell.  A representative from Major League Baseball came along and ripped our credentials up. Promptly, a rep from NBC Sports issued us new credentials. I was told to go hide, since I stood out in a crowd. I posted up outside the clubhouses as, if the Yankees win, they goto The World Series. They win, we end up in the clubhouse with them as they blow champagne everywhere. One of the pitchers came up and pounded me on the back and shook my hand. I congratulated him and he said they loved the field goal that I made. Then I pulled the ball out of my pocket and set it on the bench with a Sharpie. “I’m not allowed to ask for an autograph, but…”

Ladi Dadi Everybody

He snagged the ball up, signed it, then handed it to Jeter, O’Neil, Gooden, Strawberry, Torre and more. They passed it around like a joint at a Led Zepplin concert. I see Wade Boggs trying to hand it back to the pitcher, who motions at me. Security is rushing us out now and I’m trying to get that ball and still not get a 2nd credential torn up. As Wade hands me the ball, I say “I’ll rush this right to your wife, Mr. Boggs!”. He looks at me sideways, as does the Head of Security, and I rush out. All in all, 17 Yankees signed that ball.

A Change of Heart. Sorry, kid.

The next day I change my mind about giving the ball to my girlfriends son. He was really too young to appreciate it. Plus, he liked Cal Ripken and the rest of the Orioles. I had brought home other practice balls for him to play around with already.  I have a friend named Troy that has been a Yankees fan all his life. He’d done plenty for me, even giving me a place to live when I needed one. I went to his work at lunch and I gave it to him, with my credential and special Clubhouse pin. He was beyond himself and couldn’t believe it, but he’s a good guy and deserved it. A guy at his work, left, went to the bank and offered him $5,000 cash the same day. That’s before they went on to win The World Series. I hope he still has it 20 years later. Furthermore, if he sold it, I hope he got good money for it.

That’s my Wade Boggs story.

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