Mike Boddicker was flying in to join the Miracle of Massachusetts on Saturday morning. The evening before, he had been traded from the Orioles to the Red Sox, had agreed to a two-year contract extension and had tried to imagine what it would be like playing for another major league team for the first time in his life.
As Boddicker entered the terminal at Logan Airport, a man stopped him. "He didn't ask for my autograph," said Boddicker. "He offered me a ride to Fenway Park. He wanted to make sure I got there all right. I'm a trusting soul. I guess I could have ended up in Maine."
Not likely. Boddicker had already received a standing ovation at Fenway—and he was still in the Baltimore clubhouse, 325 miles away, at the time. The Red Sox had put the announcement of the trade on the message board during the first game of Friday's 6-4, 5-4 sweep of the Brewers, and the crowd rose to cheer the news. On Saturday morning, when Boddicker opened the door to the Red Sox clubhouse for the first time, he was greeted by Bruce Hurst shouting, "I can't believe you're here," and Jim Rice hollering, "Welcome, bro." And before Boddicker could even start unpacking, Marty Barrett told him, "You can win this thing for us."
On his first day in the Red Sox dugout, the 30-year-old righthander watched Roger Clemens outduel the Brewers' Ted Higuera in heat that approached 110° on the field. In the bottom of the sixth, with Clemens trailing 2-1, Mike Greenwell, the majors' RBI leader (84), knocked in Jody Reed to tie it, and Boston won 3-2 on a bases-loaded single in the ninth by Barrett. To the victory-starved newcomer in the Boston dugout, it was a beautiful sight.
The next afternoon was his. After a 100-minute rain delay and 7‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® shutout innings, Boddicker walked off the mound to another deafening standing O. "I feel like I'm in a dream and I'm a rookie again," he said afterward.
With late relief help from Bob Stanley, Boddicker beat the Brewers 5-0 with his cornucopia of off-speed pitches. "Pitching after Clemens is going to help him a lot," said Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn. Not that he really needs it. Since his 0-8 start with the O's, Boddicker is 7-4, with a 2.75 ERA.
The last time Boddicker started in Fenway Park was June 25. He left after the seventh inning with the game tied 3-3, and Boston scored seven runs in the eighth for a 10-3 win. The Red Sox were trudging along, not with any talk of winning a pennant, just wondering when manager John McNamara was going to get fired. In the stands, fans wore SACK MAC bags on their heads. The Red Sox were eight games out of first.
But what a difference a month makes. The Mac Sack came after the All-Star break, and by Sunday night the Red Sox had reeled off a 17-1 record under new manager Joe Morgan. When Boddicker arrived from Baltimore—in return for outfielder Brady Anderson and Double A righthander Curt Schilling—the Red Sox were working on a 19-game Fenway Park winning streak. Boddicker's victory on Sunday made it 20, one short of the Sox' 1949 record. Welcome to the pennant race, Mike.
"I've been through a 21-game losing streak, and I wanted to get to a winning atmosphere," said Boddicker. "But this is crazy."
Crazy? In their last 29 home dates—going back to May 16—the Red Sox have averaged 33,717 fans, which is 100.4% of the 33,583 capacity. The Boston Center for Adult Education will offer a class this fall called How to Enjoy the World Series: A Workshop for Women. An elderly woman brought a movie camera to film Boddicker's debut, and scalpers on Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street were asking $150 for weekend tickets. "These are for the Brewers in July," said one scalper. "Think what we'll get for the Yankees in September."
"It ain't this easy, but it sure is fun, ain't it?" said Morgan on Saturday. "I say, 'Lou [Boston G.M. Gorman], can we get Boddicker?' And he's here. I've never seen anything like it."
BILL BRETT/BOSTON GLOBE
Clemens cooled off between innings but kept the miracle alive by fanning 13 Saturday.
In his Sox debut, Boddicker got his second standing 0.