Thursday, June 19, 2008

the fire inside

Player: Wade Boggs and Mike Greenwell
Card: 1990 Fleer #632
Errors: Card advertises “Super Star Specials”, yet has Mike Greenwell on it. Look closely - where is Greenwell’s right hand going? Both players coordinated undershirts with batting gloves, which is very cool.
Comments: Mike Greenwell tried to review the events of that day, searching for the moment where it all went wrong.
It had started so innocently.
On a sweltering August night, the Sox had swept a double header from the front-running Orioles. Boston was finally over .500, and within a game of first. Anything seems possible on a night like that.
“Let’s go throw some knives,” Boggs said, as he put on his street clothes.
That was probably when the night changed. That seemed so clear to Greenwell, looking back. But then again, he was a new man now. He had seen so much horror.
Boggs took the collection of knives out of his locker.
"Let's go over to Nick's Place," Boggs suggested.
Within an hour, Greenwell found himself in an alley behind a bar owned by first baseman Nick Esasky, tossing knives with Orioles catcher Mickey Tettleton and Boggs. The high of the double-header was still ringing in Greenwell’s ears. The knives flew like sparrows toward a struggling worm. The booze flowed even faster.
And so it didn’t seem strange when the dares started.
First, Boggs challenged Tettleton to taunt a bear at the Boston Public Zoo. Tettleton did it. He nearly lost a hand, but he did it.
Then Tettleton dared Boggs to stick-up a cabbie. Once Boggs had tossed the driver into the street, all three men piled in.
“Your turn,” Boggs said, turning toward Greenwell. “I dare you to burn down the Boston Tea Party ship.”
Through the long cab ride across town, the men talked about where to get matches, gasoline. Even then, it seemed like a joke - a laugh. Surely, something would intercept them before they could do any real damage. But Boggs was driving at fantastic speeds, and suddenly they were there, on the Congress Street Bridge.
Was it the crazy look in Boggs’ eyes? Was it Tettleton’s constant goading? Why hadn’t Greenwell turned back?
For years, Greenwell had admired Boggs' hitting, his facial hair. Greenwell would look at his own paltry mustache with disgust. Why couldn't he grow a beard?
Later, Greenwell would try to convince himself he had no choice. It was the Boston Tea Party ship or him. But even he didn't believe that. As he lit the first match, Greenwell knew: he was the true monster.
The next morning, Greenwell looked for a place where no one would recognize him. In the ensuing chaos, he had fled the scene. He had avoided any of his teammates the rest of that night, rode alone to Fenway. When he got there, Greenwell scanned the stands. Every fan in sunglasses seemed like a Fed who knew his secret.
Greenwell trudged back to the dugout.
There was Boggs. As he finished off a leg of chicken, there was no indication Boggs was thinking about the ship. Greenwell could think of nothing else.
“Boggsy, Greenie, how about a picture for the press?” yelled a Boston Herald photographer.
Greenwell looked up. The two men shuffled toward each other.
“C’mon guys,” Johnny Newspaper continued. “A little closer together. Let’s make this for A1. I can see the headline now: Boston Igniters.”
Why did he say that?
Neither Greenwell nor Boggs made eye contact. They couldn’t. There would always be too much between them.
The photographer's camera snapped.
Scoring: FO3


Rounding Thirty 3rd said...

Incredible and disturbing. What most disturbs me though is that they also burned down the Green Monster that night, but no one at the field seems to notice or care!

Brilliant writing!!

Goose Joak said...

Awesome narrative! A+

Anonymous said...

Simple but looking fabulous...
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Anonymous said...

I like Wade Boggs and Mike Greenwell conversation...
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