BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-- It was two outs, bottom of the ninth and Wade Boggs found himself with an opportunity to win the game.
"I got the bite, but my line broke -- and it was a good fish," said Boggs, Major League Baseball's legendary third baseman and batting champion.
Boggs was among 52 angling buffs invited to compete in the CITGO BASS Masters Celebrity Tournament during last week's only practice day for the world championship bass tournament at Lay Lake some 35 miles south of Birmingham. The celebrity bringing in the biggest bass Tuesday won $500 donated in his name to the charity of his choice.
"I really wanted to win," said Boggs, an all star with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. "Bass tournaments are a great way for me to fulfill my competitive nature since retirement. "I was disappointed. I didn't come here to lose. That's the nature of a competitor -- you want to win bragging rights."
Affinity for fishing
Born in Nebraska and reared in Georgia and Florida, Boggs developed an affinity for bass fishing along with his natural ability to consistently stroke tricky pitches out into places where they couldn't be fielded.
"There are a lot of similarities between baseball and professional bass fishing," Boggs said. "You take the average guy off the street and he might not even touch a 95 mph fastball.
"It's the same with pro bass anglers. They will absolutely fish you to death over the long haul. Compared to weekend anglers, these guys have more quickness, better reaction to bites and keener knowledge about where to fish."
Boggs got the bass bug big time following his 3,000 hit with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"The team presented me with a Ranger bass boat for my 3,000th hit, and I got a chance to meet a lot of the folks from Ranger and B.A.S.S., which also presented me with a life membership," he said. "I got a great opportunity to see how the pro anglers work."
Paired with a pro
Boggs was paired up for the celebrity event with pro angler Brent Chapman. "I was really impressed with how his mind clicks. Watching these guys perform at such a superior level is very impressive." Joining Boggs in the celebrity action were such names as hockey's Pat Verbeek, daytime TV drama star Real Andrews, football coaches Lee Corso and Pat Dye, and ESPN's Ron Franklin and Jerry McGinnis. Also fishing were members of the outdoor news media.
Big bass honors were won by an outdoor writer. D'arcy Egan of the Plain Dealer finished third. I was teamed up with 2000 Classic champ Woo Daves and finished among the "also rans."
So, would Wade Boggs consider a career as a pro bass angler now that he's hung up his glove and bat?
"That would be great, wouldn't it?" he said. "I don't know how well I'd do, but I'd like to try it. You really have to be dedicated -- give 110 percent every day. The dedication of these guys is something weekend anglers really can't understand until they see it up close like we did this week."