Red Sox Memories: What happened to these 1986 players?
Players are allowed much leeway as long as they produce, but when that evaporates so does their welcome. In 1986 the Red Sox had a remarkably talented 26-year-old right-handed called Oil Can Boyd – a nickname supposedly derived from his propensity for drinking beer in his more youthful years.
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Boyd had a great year for the 1986 Red Sox (16-10, 3.78) taking the hill for 30 starts and 10 complete games – second on the staff not behind Clemens, but lefty Bruce Hurst. In the World Series “Can” took on the Mets in one start and was treated with little respect giving up six runs. With Boyd, it is a real magical mystery tour.
Living as I do close to Brockton, Massachusetts the last time I saw Boyd pitch was with the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League back in 2005. Boyd – then in his mid-40s – was a full-fledged baseball vagabond with visits to several minor league teams and even into Mexico and barnstorming. What happened?
The downfall or skid started in 1986 when he was not selected for the All-Star team. Boyd exploded over the slight and that was just one of a string of incidents over the next two seasons including run-ins with Jim Rice and Mike Boddicker. At one point Boyd quit the team in 1986 and to this day I find it amazing that Don Baylor just didn’t kick the can.
Boyd was colorful. erratic, flamboyant, bizarre, and unreliable. Boyd was also suffering from injuries in the 1987-89 Boston time period and excessive use of alcohol and drugs. The problem was eventually solved by Boyd signing as a free agent with the Expos and then continuing the slide to MLB oblivion.
Boyd has spent time in jail for threatening a former spouse, saw a real estate venture fail, but is still living off his notoriety with autographs shows, speaking engagements, and even dabbling in reality TV. Boyd comes across – at least the Brockton Rox Boyd – as a likable miscreant. What more on the “Can?” Boyd is now an author and it is an excellent read.