I heard the legendary story over my car radio as I was heading down I-5 to work about a year ago, listening to Mitch in the Morning on 950 KJR, as usual. For some reason or another, Mitch was gone that day so Steve Sandmeyer was hosting the show, and former Mariners and Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson was sitting in as his sidekick. Sandmeyer was killing some time by making small talk about baseball and about Nelly’s career and exploits as a major leaguer. The conversation turned to some of the funniest things Nelly had seen in his career when Sandy asked something like “who was the best with the ladies out of everyone you were around in baseball?” Nelson said that it was tough to say for sure, but that he figured it was probably Andre Dawson, the former Expos, Cubs, Red Sox, and Marlins slugger.
The two shared a laugh about the Hawk’s game, and then Sandmeyer stumbled upon the most compelling question ever articulated in an interview: “who would you say drank the most beer out of everyone you ever played with?” The following colloquy sheds some light on one of drinking’s biggest stars and on one of the greatest drinking feats of all time.
Sandy: Who would you say drank the most beer out of everyone you ever played with?
Nelson: Easy, Wade Boggs…..easy
Sandy: (laughing) Really!? Wade Boggs?
Nelson: Oh, yeah, without a doubt. I’ve never seen anyone drink as much beer as he did in my life:
Sandy: (laughing) Get outta here, alright, give me an example, like how much did he drink?
Nelson: Oh, I’d say, on a typical road trip, east coast to west coast [Nelly played with Boggs on the Yankees], say a road game to Seattle……Wade would drink anywhere between 50 and 60 beers.
Sandy: NO WAY!! 50 or 60 beers. That is impossible.
Nelson: No, I know…I know how crazy that sounds, and I wouldn’t believe it myself unless I saw him do it…..numerous times. And he drank nothing but Miller Lite.
Sandy: How in the hell did he have time to drink that many beers. For God’s sake, how many times did he have to go to the bathroom?
Nelson: I’m not kidding you Steve. Seriously. Wade was the kind of guy who was always the first one at the club house. So he’d get to the clubhouse, and he’d bring a six pack with him. He’d be there drinking a beer when someone showed up, and as we were all packing our stuff up out of our lockers and getting our bags ready for the trip, Wade would sit there and drink that whole six pack.
Now, at the time, we were flying out of New Jersey, so it was somewhat of a drive from Yankee stadium to the airport in New Jersey. Wade would drink another couple of beers on the bus to the airport. At the time, we were flying this older airplane, it couldn’t make it across the country without refueling, and it wasn’t the fastest airplane in the sky. So we would stop in North Dakota or something. Wade would drink about a half rack between New Jersey and North Dakota, and it would take about a half-hour to an hour to refuel once we got there, so he’d have a few more beers while we were grounded in North Dakota.
Once we got back up in the air, Wade would drink another 10, 11, 12 beers on the way out to the west coast. The whole flight from coast to coast ususally took us well over 7 hours. We’d touch down at Sea-Tac, hop on the bus headed to the Kingdome, and Wade would have another beer or two on the bus. Then, all of us would get to the Kingdome and unpack our bags and sit around and BS with eachother, and Wade would have a beer in his hand the entire time. He was always one of the last people to leave the club house too. So I’d say that all in all, he drank over 50 beers on the trip, and this wasn’t just an isolated incident, he did that almost every time.
Sandy: Unbelievable. That’s absolutely unbelieveable.
Nelson: Yeah, I know, I’m not kidding though, let’s call up somebody and they’ll tell you man, they’ll tell you I’m not lying.
Sandy: Alright, who should we call up. Let’s take a commercial break, and then we’ll call up somebody and see if we can’t get to the bottom of this….This is absolutely amazing.
[commercial break: When the commercial end, Paul Sorrento, a former Mariner and Devil Ray, and Boggs’s and Nelly’s former teammate, is on the phone]
Nelly: Hey Paul, good to hear from you man, I haven’t talked to you in a while.
Sorrento: Yeah, what’s it been like, two, three years?
Nelly: Yeah. Hey, Paul, just to clarify now, I didn’t speak to you over the commercial break, and I haven’t talked to you about anything since we last talked a few years ago right?
Sorrento: Yeah, right.
Nelly: Alright Paul, we’ve been talking about Wade Boggs up here today in Seattle.
Sorrento: (laughing) Yeah, ole Wade huh.
Nelly: Yeah, alright Paul, I need you to answer one question for me, truthfully now….How many beers would Wade Boggs drink on an east coast to west coast road trip?
Sorrento: Oh, jeez, (exhaling like a flat tire) I don’t know, like 70.
Nelly, Sandberg, Sorrento, Hank: (Rolling on the ground laughing)