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Boggs Hits HR For 3,000th Hit


Wade Boggs knelt down and kissed home plate.

His trip was complete. And so was an amazing three-day run of baseball milestones.

Boggs became the first player to homer for his 3,000th hit, connecting in rare style with a two-run shot Saturday night in Tampa Bay's 15-10 loss to Cleveland.

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  • One day after Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit and two days after Mark McGwire hit his 500th home run, Boggs reached his lifelong individual goal.

    "I finally put my flag in that mountain," Boggs said. "So many guys have tried and come up short."

    And Boggs, who rode a police horse around Yankee Stadium after winning his only World Series championship in 1996, once again knew how to celebrate. He took an emotional trip around the bases after becoming the 23rd player to get 3,000.

    Boggs already had a pair of RBI singles when he lined a hanging, 2-2 breaking ball from Chris Haney over the right-field wall in the sixth inning for a 372-foot homer.

    He pumped his fists, high-fived first-base coach Billy Hatcher and pointed upwards in a tribute to his mother, killed in a 1986 car accident.

    "Billy Hatcher had said all along that he wanted to kiss me on the 3,000th hit, so I just ran on by him so I didn't have to kiss him," Boggs said. "I got halfway to second and blew my mother a kiss. That was a special moment."

    A few steps from home, Boggs again pointed up. He then got down on his knees and kissed the plate as his teammates and family waited to embrace him.

    "Before I touched home plate, I blew another one and something ran through my mind to say, `Go ahead and kiss that thing. You stepped on it enough, you might as well kiss it,'" he said.

    Boggs' father, Win, his wife, Debbie, and his 12-year-old son Brett, came on the field to join the festivities. Brett, whose godfather is fellow 3,000-hit club member George Brett, was the Devil Rays' batboy.

    Fireworks were set off when Boggs connected, the crowd of 39,512 gave him a standing ovation and a scramble developed for the historic ball. Several fans ran onto the field, but security guards stopped them from reaching Boggs.

    The ball was caught in the stands by Mike Hogan, 32, of Tampa, who planned to give it back to Boggs. Fans were presented with a commemorative postcard when the game resumed after a four-minute delay.

    "Right when it left the bat, I said: `Oh, my God. That's a home run and I'm never getting that ball back,'" Boggs said.

    But retrieving the souvenir was no problem. He exchanged a bat and jersey for the ball, and flipped it to his dad.

    Boggs, 41, is a five-time AL batting champion. He grew up about 20 miles from Tropicana Field and played Little League ball in Tampa.

    Boggs, best known for spraying line drives to the opposite field, reached 3,000 by pulling a home run. It was just his second of the season and 118th of his career, which began in 1982 with Boston and later took him to the New York Yankees.

    This is the sixth time that two players have gotten their 3,000th hit in the same season. It last happened in 1992 when Brett and Robin Yount did it.

    Cal Ripken could become the third player to reach 3,000 this year. The Baltimore star, currently on the disabled list, needs 32 more hits.

    "I wasn't surprised, I wasn't surprised at all," Gwynn said after San Diego's 3-1 loss at Montreal. "Three milestones in three nights, that's pretty amazing."

    Gwynn, an eight-time NL batting champion who also made his major league debut in 1982, had said he wanted to beat Boggs to 3,000. The 39-year-old Padres star did it Friday night at Montreal with a first-inning single, and went on to get three more hits.

    "Our careers have been right in line with each other," Gwynn said. "I heard he hit a home run for 3,000 so I know he had to be thrilled to death to be the first one to do that."

    McGwire became the 16th player to reach the 500-homer mark Thursday at St. Louis. Like Gwynn, the Cardinals slugger kept going after making history, later connecting for No. 501 in the same game.

    Boggs had said he wanted to get No. 3,000 at home in front of his father. After grounding out in his first at-bat, he got started.

    With the bases loaded in the third, Boggs grounded a single to right off Charles Nagy (13-7) for his 2,998th hit. No. 2,999 found the same hole between first and second base, just beyond the reach of a diving Roberto Alomar in the fourth.

    The c2owE gave Boggs a standing ovation and the hometown hero acknowledged the applause with a wave. After homering, he walked in his final plate appearance in the eighth.

    Manny Ramirez went 3-for-3, drove in five runs and scored four for the Indians. He hit a three-run homer in the first off Bobby Witt (6-8).

    Jim Thome had four hits, including a two-run homer, and four RBIs for Cleveland.

    Notes

  • Dave Roberts, promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to replace the injured OF Kenny Lofton, made an impressive major league debut. He had three hits, scored three runs and stole a base. The Indians also put OF Jacob Cruz and recalled OF Jolbert Cabrera.
  • Fred McGriff drove in three runs for the Devil Rays.
  • The other instances of two players getting their 3,000th hit in the same season: Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie in 1914, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins in 1925, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays in 1970 and Lou Brock and Carl Yastrzemski in 1979.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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