Hall of Famer Wade Boggs describes Tampa as a big city without a big-city feel.
"It's a great place for kids to grow up,” he said. "I've always maintained a residence here in Tampa."
Boggs' storied career started right here in Tampa. As a Plant Panther, "going to the state finals" was the highlight of a high school career that made him a seventh-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox. Boggs then spent six years in the minors before coming up to the majors for the Red Sox in 1982 and spent 18 years with the Sox, Yankees and Rays. He was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 2005 — the very same year his son Bret graduated from Wharton.
This year marks Boggs' 11th year on Wharton's coaching staff, and seventh since his son left the New Tampa school.
Why does he still coach?
"Coach (Scott) Hoffman and I have a good rapport," he said. "Honestly, it's a lot of fun. Also, it keeps me in the game, in a uniform, and then there's the satisfaction of seeing some of these kids make it to the next level.”
It has to be pretty cool for young athletes to have a Major League Hall of Famer hitting them infield grounders. It has to be even cooler to have Boggs as a resource as a coach.
"I think the coaches might appreciate it even more than the players," Hoffman said. "As coaches, we are so lucky to be able to bounce ideas off a Hall of Famer. It's an honor to coach with him."
Boggs is perfectly content. He remains united with both his lifelong passion and his newfound role.
"Right now, my day job is taking care of my grand babies," said Boggs. "I really enjoy where I'm at right now."
Pushing young athletes in the proper direction is gratifying.
"We teach these kids to play the game the right way," Boggs said.
What’s the highlight of Boggs’ coaching career?
"Watching my son hit a homerun in the last at-bat of his high school career,” he said.