Orioles A-Z: Mike Boddicker


Note: Orioles A-Z is a recurring series in which I profile a past player in the Orioles organization that had an impact on the team, whether it be good or bad. It is done alphabetically by last name. I’m going to be talking about the player’s background, how he got to the team, what he did while they were on the team, how he left, and what he’s doing now.

He was born on August 23, 1957 in probably the most boring town in the United States: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was the youngest of 5 children. He was drafted in 1975 by the Montreal Expo’s but chose to attend the University of Iowa. He started as a 3rd basemen his freshman year when he was named to the third-team All-Big 10 team. However, he went on to concentrate on pitching after that year. In 1978, he led the NCAA with 11.5 strikeouts per 9 innings as a junior. He then was drafted and signed with the Orioles in 1978 as a 6th round pick in the draft.

Baltimore Orioles: 1980-1988
Only 15 days later, he was playing AAA ball with the Rochester Red Wings but stayed there for 4 years with the exception of a few appearances at the major league level in 1980, 1981, and 1982. It was actually reported that Earl Weaver didn’t like Boddicker’s stuff and saw him as the last-guy-off-the-staff type guy. In May of 1983, however, he finally got his chance when Jim Palmer got injured. He was immediately put in the starting rotation and immediately confused the hell out of batters that faced him. That’s because of his so-called “foshball.” Boddicker referred to it as a glorified changeup that confused batters of all types. His fastball never hit 90 and he was more known for out-thinking the batters he faced. He was able to throw at many different speeds, at 3 different arm angles, and keep the batters off-balance in order get them out. Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew referred to his pitching repertoire as “Little League slop” and as “worse garbage than the stuff I take out at night.” In order to make up for his lack of power, he used his off-speed pitches and deception.

12 days after he was called up, he threw a shutout to the White Sox. He finished the season with a 16-8 record and 2.77 ERA. He also led the league in shutouts, fewest hits per 9 innings pitched, and opposing batting average. He finished third in 1983 American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

Probably his best moment in his career came in the 1983 American League Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox. The O’s were down 1-0 in the series and Boddicker was the starter for Game 2. He went on to toss a 5-hit game shut-out with 14 strikeouts, tying a Championship Series record. The O’s won that game 4-0 and the next 3 games to win the pennant as Boddicker was named the MVP of the 1983 ALCS. The Orioles then went on to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies with Boddicker again starting the 2nd game. This time, he tossed a 3-hit game with no walks and one unearned run to spark the Orioles to go on and win the World Series. He also had his only RBI of his career with a sac fly in his second career plate appearance as well as striking out all 3 of the great Phillies: Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Mike Schmidt.

The next season, 1984, was the best overall of his career. He went 20-11 with a 2.79 ERA leading the AL in both wins and ERA and he finished 4th in votes for the AL Cy Young Award. He also earned an All-Star Game bid.

Unfortunately, his career went on the decline after that. In 1985, he went 12-17 as he allowed a lot more hits and walks. His season ended early in September due to tendinitis in his right knee. The next year, he went on the DL in April with a torn ligament in the middle finger of his pitching hand (right). Once he came back, he was brilliant going 10-1 with a 3.48 but he hit a slump ending the season with a 4.70 ERA and a 14-12 record. 1987 went a little better with a 4.18 ERA but a losing record of 10-12 and the Orioles were in the basement of the AL East by this time so it really didn’t matter. In 1988, the O’s went 0-21 to open up the season as Boddicker lost 13 straight starts from September 1987 to May 1988. However, he was still a solid starter and there were lots of trade rumors out there for every other team in the AL East. Finally, on July 29, 1988 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for none other than Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling, who were both minor league prospects at the time.

Boston Red Sox: 1988-1990

In the remainder of the ’88 season for the Red Sox, Boddicker went 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA helping them win the division. He allowed 3 earned runs or less in 13 of his 14 starts and went 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last 6 starts of the season. In 1989, he went 15-11 with a 4.00 ERA.

1990 was his 2nd best season of his career as he finished with a 17-8 record with a 3.36 ERA helping the Red Sox to win another division crown. In that season he won 10 consecutive starts from April 30 to July 2nd as well as going 6-0 in his final 9 starts of the season. He won the division-clinching game on the last night of the season against the White Sox and won his first and only Gold Glove that year.

Kansas City Royals: 1991-1992

After his 1990 season with the Red Sox, he filed for free agency and signed a 3-year contract with the Royals. Expectations were high and he got off to a strong start but went on the DL in May with an elbow ligament strain and was only o.k. when he returned. In 1992, he was sent to the bullpen after he lost his first 2 starts, which is where he remained for most of the year. This was his worst season in which he went 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA in 8 starts.

Milwaukee Brewers: 1993
The Royals sold his contract to the Brewers in April of 1993. He pitched only 54 innings for the Brewers (10 starts) where he went 3-5 with a 5.67 ERA.

Post-Career Life:

The Baltimore Sun did a “Catching Up with Former Oriole Mike Boddicker” article last year. It reported that Boddicker owns 5 farms in Kansas and Iowa that he tends to. Boddicker was quoted as saying “Tee shirt, jeans, sneakers, pickup truck, hunting, fishing, and watching the kids. That’s me.” That was obvious when he chose a Chevy Blazer over a sporty Camero Z28 when he won the MVP of the 1983 ALCS.

He has also established the Mike Boddicker Scholarship at Iowa for “a member of the Iowa baseball team who is in good academic standing and displays outstanding character and personality.”

He has a wife named Lisa as well as 2 sons named Cory and James and 2 daughters named Stephanie and Brittany. He also has 2 grandchildren.