Major League Fishing With Wade Boggs
Posted on Thu, Sep. 11, 2003
Wade Boggs: major-league fishing guy
OUTDOORS / SUSAN COCKING
If you think life is over once you are no longer a major-league superstar, talk to Wade Boggs. If I could be reincarnated, I would like to come back to Earth as Boggs -- post-retirement.
Boggs left professional baseball in 1999 following an 18-year career with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. His credits include appearing in 12 All-Star Games, winning the American League's batting title six times, a Gold Glove twice and becoming the 23rd player to reach 3,000 hits.
Today, the 45-year-old finds enjoyment and an outlet for his considerable competitive juices through fishing and his children.
Last weekend, he competed in the Mercury Outboards Southernmost Light-Tackle Anglers Masters (SLAM) Tournament in Key West, winning the spin/plug division. Guided by Capt. Steve Lamp, he caught and released two tarpon using artificial lures and a permit using a live crab.
Indicative of the third baseman's athletic dexterity, he made all casts with his left hand so as not to crowd me -- a right-hander -- as we stood on the casting platform of Lamp's skiff.
I can cast with either hand,'' he said nonchalantly.
From the SLAM tournament, Boggs was heading out on an African safari, where I have no doubt he'll bag whatever dangerous game animal he targets.
Another of his little-known talents is the ability to make animal calls, including alligators, barred and screech owls, ospreys, turkeys, three kinds of ducks and a red-tailed hawk -- all of which he demonstrated last weekend with uncanny mimicry while we were waiting for the fish to bite.
After Boggs returns home to Tampa, he likely will visit Yankee Landing -- the bass camp he owns in Lochloosa, named after his former team and run by his father and brother-in-law.
And he'll be helping son Brett, 16, a junior at Tampa's Wharton High, sift through 45 letters and e-mails from colleges trying to recruit the star center fielder. And did I mention Boggs coaches his son's high school team?
Like I said, what a life -- laid-back and challenging.''I do a lot of fishing and hunting,'' he said. ``I miss the competition -- being in the batter's box with a guy throwing a ball at you at 95 miles per hour and you're trying to outduel him -- and that's why I get so intense in these tournaments.
The enjoyment I get now is watching my kid play. When you're in the majors, you miss their first steps, their first words. Now that I'm retired, I have the opportunity to do things with my son.''Boggs, his son, wife Debbie and daughter Meagann -- a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy -- frequently fish together in Tampa Bay.Brett also has fished alongside his father in the Mercury Outboards/Cheeca Redbone tournament in Islamorada, scoring a slam of redfish and bonefish when he was 12.
Does Boggs believe his son is as talented an athlete as he was in his heyday?''He's better than I was,'' Boggs said without hesitation. 'His nickname is `Ice Man.' He'll have a great game or a horrible game and you won't know it.'When I played baseball, people asked me I if enjoyed it because I never smiled. I said, `This is war.' Brett's a lot more laid-back, not as intense as I was.''Boggs' intensity still shows while fishing.
He relished being aboard the fastest boat in the 41-boat fleet at the SLAM -- a 20-foot Lake & Bay with a Mercury Racing OptiMax 200 XS engine that tops out at more than 70 mph.The boat enabled Boggs, Lamp and I to beat our competitors handily in the race from the dock to the tarpon flats more than 40 miles away near Big Pine Key.
After plastering our wind-whipped faces back on, we bagged three tarpon -- Boggs' two that were caught on D.O.A. shrimp and mine on a live pinfish -- in the first hour of the tournament.''If you're putt-putting around and the guy next to you has high-end horsepower, you're looking for another fishing spot,'' Boggs said.As the only angler with entries in the spin/plug division on the first day, Boggs was peppered with questions on what he used to catch the tarpon.''If I told you, I'd have to kill you,'' he told guide Mark Krowka, half-joking.Responded Krowka: ``Oh -- a D.O.A.''Chuckled Boggs: ``He got the subliminal message.''
Boggs is definitely having fun. With no chronic physical ailments that typically plague aging athletes, he works out every day, says he feels great and contemplates options -- including becoming a baseball color commentator.''I'll probably make those decisions after my son graduates,'' he said. ``But then I'll probably just follow him around and watch him play.''