published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Wiedmer: Daltonian in World Series Boggs family affair

  • photo
    St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Mitchell Boggs celebrates after finishing off the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2011 in St. Louis. St. Louis beat the Reds 3-0. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Friday afternoon found Tommy and Jane Boggs a few miles south of Memphis and at least six hours from their intended destination of Arlington, Texas. The Dalton, Ga., couple already had driven more than five hours after leaving St. Louis earlier in the day.

"And if the [World] Series goes six games, we'll be headed back to St. Louis on Tuesday," Tommy said. "But it's a big thrill. This is something Mitchell's always dreamed of doing."

In a way, their 27-year-old son pitching out of the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Texas Rangers is a natural progression. Older brother Matthew helped lead Georgia Tech to the College World Series in 2002. Mitchell matched him two years later by helping Georgia's Bulldogs get there in 2004.

A year later he was drafted by the Cards in the fifth round. Mostly with the big club since 2008, Boggs had his best season for the Redbirds during this year's regular season, recording a 3.56 earned run average in 51 relief appearances.

Though Mitchell has yet to face the Rangers heading into tonight's Game 3, he pitched five innings of relief through the National League divisional series upset of Philadelphia and last week's NLCS triumph over Milwaukee.

"It just all depends on how the starters pitch," Tommy said as he navigated his Ford Expedition down Interstate 40 while Mitchell's wife Lele was flying on the team plane.

"Mitchell pitched three games in the league championship series. Right now, he's just really excited about the way the team's playing, about how they've come together when nobody else thought they could make it."

If Mitchell's favorite childhood team -- the Atlanta Braves -- had done its job down the stretch, the Cards wouldn't have made it. Down 10 1/2 games to the Braves on Aug. 26, St. Louis played terrifically down the stretch at the same time Atlanta was performing terribly.

Finally tied with one game to go, the Cards clobbered the Houston Astros on the same September night the Braves were losing in 13 innings to the Philadelphia Phillies.

From that game forward, Tommy, Jane and Matthew -- who flew to Milwaukee last week -- have been traveling around the country to watch Mitchell and the Redbirds attempt to capture the franchise's 11th World Series crown.

"It's like a Georgia football game," Jane said of the St. Louis crowds at Busch Stadium. "Everybody's in red. Everybody's so nice. They're the best baseball fans."

Because Matthew and Mitchell were stars at Dalton High before they went to Tech and UGA, Jane and Tommy have had plenty of red to pull from their wardrobe over the years.

"When Matthew went to Georgia Tech I had to buy a lot of navy and gold, and that was great," Jane said. "But we've always had a lot of red around the house."

Asked if they're superstitious about which red garments they wear, Jane said no.

"But we do watch the games in different rooms at home," she said. "I like to yell at the television sometimes. Tommy hits the armrests of the sofa sometimes when he's mad."

Nor does Tommy think that Mitchell is overly superstitious.

"He got his hair cut after the NLCS," Tommy said. "So that should tell you something. But he is keeping the beard."

He also wanted to explain why Mitchell wore a Dalton Football T-shirt during the Cardinals' locker-room celebration following their division series win over Philly.

"He was doing that to show his support for Coach [Matt] Land," Tommy said. "There were some things going on and he wanted people to know he was supporting the coach."

That certainly didn't surprise Mitchell's former football coach at Dalton, Ronnie McClurg, who watched Boggs quarterback the Catamounts to the state-title game his senior year.

"Mitchell's always been a person of great character, a great team player," McClurg said. "It's been a big year for that Dalton team. J.R. Martinez was a running back for us and he's on 'Dancing with the Stars.'"

Let the Cards win it all and Mitchell might be asked to be on the show next year. At the very least, if St. Louis wins, he'll get to watch it instead of hearing about it later from his mom and brother.

"When the Braves won it all in '95," Tommy said, "Jane made Mitchell go to bed before it ended. She and Matthew put a sign on his bedroom door when it was over that read, 'Braves win! Braves win!'"

Should karma side with the Cards, perhaps Mitchell will get a chance to turn out the lights on the Rangers.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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