It took Wade Boggs a long time to work his way to the major leagues, but once he got there he quickly became a star.
The Red Sox selected Boggs from Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, in the seventh round of the 1976 June Amateur Draft. Despite a gaudy batting average in the minors, Boggs didn’t make the big leagues until earning a utility spot in 1982.
He struggled as a part-time player, but seizing an opportunity when third baseman Carney Lansford was hurt in late June, Boggs wound up hitting .349 as a rookie, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting and eventually leading the Red Sox to trade Lansford.
Now entrenched at third base, Boggs won the first of his five batting titles in 1983, going on to win four straight from 1985-88.
The patient Boggs also led the AL in walks in 1986 and 1988, and topped the league with 240 hits in 1985. In 1988 and 1989, Boggs was the AL leader in runs and doubles, led the league in on-base percentage six times and in OPS twice.
He got his first All-Star nod in 1985 and wound up going to eight straight Midsummer Classics as a member of the Red Sox and finished fourth in the MVP voting in 1985.
In 1987, Boggs tapped into a power stroke many believed he didn’t have, clubbing 24 home runs before returning to his previous style of inside-outing the ball off the Green Monster.
Boggs left Boston as a free agent in December 1992, signing with the New York Yankees.
In 11 seasons with the Red Sox, Boggs hit .338/.428/.890, an OPS+ of 142, with 85 homers, 687 RBI and 1,067 runs scored.
In three postseasons with Boston, Boggs hit .311/.375/.797 with a homer and nine RBI to go with nine runs scored.
Boggs went on to win a World Series with the Yankees and picked up his 3,000th career hit as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, retiring after that season.
He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, inducted in 2005 and settled in Tampa after retiring.