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Wade Boggs Puts Up a Front, Says That He Can Withstand Storm

February 26, 1989|CLAIRE SMITH | Hartford Courant

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Wade Boggs wants to remain with the Boston Red Sox for the rest of his career. He would love to keep hitting .350 and spend this spring thinking about how such a performance would lead to a new lucrative contract.

"But that (a new contract) is the least of my worries right now," Boggs said last week, somewhat wistfully.

Even though Boggs is entering the final year of a three-year contract, he cannot afford to dream such dreams, because of Margo Adams.

Adams is the woman with whom Boggs carried on a four-year affair. She is pursuing a civil suit seeking damages because of their breakup, alleging emotional distress and breach of oral contract by the third baseman.

The suit is the easy part. All Boggs has to lose there is money. Come today, he will know whether or not he has lost the Red Sox.

This is the day Penthouse magazine will release advance copies of a tell-all article by Adams, rumored not only to further scandalize Boggs, but also more than one of his teammates.

Last Monday, Boggs began what will be a public wait. He arrived at a spring-training complex in a town whose very name suggests relief and comfort.

Boggs, however, will find no such haven until he and his teammates read the words and start to assess the damage.

Thus far, Boggs' public posture is "What me worry"? He moved among some of his teammates who reportedly stand in line to be the most maligned. He did so in a relaxed fashion that suggested that his biggest concern is getting ready for baseball, not mudslinging with Adams or mud-wrestling with teammates.

Is he worried about what today will bring?

"Not at all," Boggs said.

Is he concerned about management, which all winter has been rumored to be trying to trade off the 1988 batting champion and .350-plus lifetime hitter?

"You'll have to ask Mr. Gorman," Boggs said of Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman. He could speak only for himself, said Boggs, and his sentiments couldn't be clearer. "I want to continue to play my career here for the next 10 years," he said. "When I'm 40, I'll retire. Being in a Red Sox uniform is the most important thing."

Finally, he was asked, can Wade Boggs still be Wade Boggs, no matter what uniform he wears?

Granted, he has an incredibly strong personality trait that enables him to lock in on baseball in spite of off-field hurricanes.

His mother died in a car crash and, after one of the worst months of his career, he carried on, and won another batting title.

Adams has hammered away for a half year and he refuses any sort of compromise that would get the scandal out of the headlines and buy him and his family some respite. But this is different. This is in the clubhouse.

Can he remain that uncanny, unflappable ballplayer through one more crisis?

"Yes," Boggs said.

And to illustrate that confidence he pointed to his .325 average he had in June when Adams struck for the first time publicly, then the .391 pace he maintained from that point on. "It's concentration," he said. "I cross the white line and I forget about it."

That's an argument that will be easy to accept--if the clubhouse remains friendly. And Boggs--give him credit--insists that it will.

He has talked to the co-author of the article, David Shumacher, and, said Boggs, "He's told me nearly everything that's in there. I've heard a majority of the stories. There's hardly anything in there. You guys are going to be very disappointed."

Still, until the written words are actually seen, the proportion of scandal is still unpredictable. And what must not be overlooked is the difference between Boggs' public and private stances.

He has worked awfully hard to put out fires, even though he says that they will never be lighted.

He has talked to Jim Rice--who reputedly was the subject of some racist comments Adams alleges Boggs made.

He has talked to Bob Stanley--who reportedly was photographed with an unidentified woman in a hotel room in 1986 by Boggs and former Red Sox pitcher Steve Crawford, something Boggs has termed an innocent set-up joke that got out of hand.

Who else has he talked to and pacified? Boggs would neither disclose the contents of those private conferences nor say if it was necessary to speak with any other Red Sox players, or major leaguers, for that matter. All he would say is that he's finished with such sessions.

"Everything that needs to be said has been said," Boggs said. "I've spoken with everybody that's involved. Everything's fine. Everything that needs to be said is said. All the meetings and all the apologies are done.

"If I did (keep meeting with teammates) every time she said something new, I'd have to hold meetings every day of the season. I can't help what she does. If I could, none of this stuff would come out."

So far, Boggs' diplomacy is working. Monday, both Stanley and Rice publicly were models of decorum, content not to drop their gloves and pummel him. (What happened behind closed doors in the clubhouse during workouts, only they know.)

Unfortunately for Boggs, he cannot guarantee the placid atmosphere will remain because he cannot assure even himself that he knows everything Adams will interpret or tell. Adams has shown a great propensity for discarding her own reputation in order to drill him. Her thirst for dredging up even more scandalous material seems as unquenchable as the thirst Boggs says he once had for extramarital sex.

So Boggs waits. The brave front is in place, the only sweat thus far caused by his first workout. He has to trust that the article is as tame as reported. He has to hope that Penthouse seriously overpaid when it gave Adams a reported $100,000. And he has to pray that Stanley, Rice and others with whom he must coexist remain sanguine.

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