Born August 23, 1957 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa*, Boddicker, armed with one of the best curveballs in the league, was one of the most steady and reliable starters of the 1980s. He also threw a "foshball," a changeup/forkball combo that frustrated hitters.
* Boddicker is one of 13 players born in Cedar Rapids to make it to the majors. Among them are John Wathan, Cal Eldred and Red Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney, whose brother Kellen was a 2011 Bluefield Blue Jay and is currently at low-A Lansing.
Selected in the eighth round of the 1975 draft by the Expos, Mike chose to attend the University of Iowa. A Third-Team All-Big 10 selection at third base as a freshman, Boddicker focused on pitching for the rest of his time in Iowa City. Three years later, he turned pro upon being drafted in the sixth round by the Orioles. Other Hawkeyes to play in the big leagues include Eldred, Jim Sundberg and Cap Anson.
Boddicker's first professional action was in Bluefield in the summer of '78. Of his eight appearances he made only one start. He allowed two runs (one earned) in 19 innings for an ERA of 0.47. He yielded only nine hits but walked ten batters. Still, he earned a promotion to Double-A Charlotte, then another to Triple-A Rochester that year.
In a little over two seasons, he had made it to the majors, debuting on October 4, 1980 on the second-to-last day of the season. Against the Indians, he didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, but Ron Hassey touched him up with a double and a homer as Cleveland came back from 3-0 down to beat Boddicker and the O's 6-4.
After brief stints in 1981 and 1982, Mike was in Baltimore to stay in 1983. As a rookie, he went 16-8 with a 2.77 ERA that was second in the league to Rick Honeycutt of Texas. His 7.089 hits per nine IP and five shutouts led the Junior Circuit and his 1.078 WHIP ranked second to Cy Young winner LaMarr Hoyt.
He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Ron Kittle, who slugged 35 homers for the White Sox, and Julio Franco, who is exactly one year younger than Boddicker and stole 32 bases for Cleveland.
The Orioles won the Eastern Division in '83 and faced Kittle and Hoyt's Chicago White Sox in the ALCS. Hoyt shut down the O's in the opener and Baltimore needed a win to avoid an 0-2 deficit before the series shifted to Chicago. Boddicker delivered with a Game Two gem, a complete-game five-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts*. The Orioles won the next two games at Comiskey Park to win the pennant and Boddicker was named ALCS MVP.
* Only 12 pitchers have struck out 14 or more batters in a postseason game:
|1||Bob Gibson||1968-10-02||WS||1||STL||DET||W 4-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||0||0||1||17|
|2||Kevin Brown||1998-09-29||NLDS||1||SDP||HOU||W 2-1||GS-8 ,W||8.0||2||0||0||2||16|
|3||Roger Clemens||2000-10-14||ALCS||4||NYY||SEA||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||1||0||0||2||15|
|4||Livan Hernandez||1997-10-12||NLCS||5||FLA||ATL||W 2-1||CG 9 ,W||9.0||3||1||1||2||15|
|5||Mike Mussina||1997-10-11||ALCS||3||BAL||CLE||L 1-2||GS-7||7.0||3||1||1||2||15|
|6||Sandy Koufax||1963-10-02||WS||1||LAD||NYY||W 5-2||CG 9 ,W||9.0||6||2||2||3||15|
|7||Tim Lincecum||2010-10-07||NLDS||1||SFG||ATL||W 1-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||2||0||0||1||14|
|8||Mike Scott||1986-10-08||NLCS||1||HOU||NYM||W 1-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||0||0||1||14|
|9||Mike Boddicker||1983-10-06||ALCS||2||BAL||CHW||W 4-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||0||0||3||14|
|10||John Candelaria||1975-10-07||NLCS||3||PIT||CIN||L 3-5||GS-8||7.2||3||3||3||2||14|
|11||Joe Coleman||1972-10-10||ALCS||3||DET||OAK||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||7||0||0||3||14|
|12||Carl Erskine||1953-10-02||WS||3||BRO||NYY||W 3-2||CG 9 ,W||9.0||6||2||2||3||14|
It was on to the World Series against the Phillies and once again, that year's Cy Young winner (this time John Denny) beat the O's in Baltimore in Game One. Boddicker came through again to even the series. He allowed only an unearned run on three hits without issuing a walk in a complete-game victory. The Orioles won three straight in Philly to win the championship.
He made his only career All-Star team in 1984, but he did not pitch in the game. For the season, he led the AL with 20 wins and a 2.79 ERA while finishing fourth in the Cy Young vote.
Boddicker was up-and-down over the next three seasons. He averaged 33 starts and 216 innings, but he posted a record of 36-41 with a 4.32 ERA (97 ERA+). That included a 13-game losing streak to end 1987 and start 1988 (the O's began that year 0-21). Despite a better ERA of 3.86 in '88, he was 6-12 and was traded on July 29 to the Boston Red Sox for two prospects*. Boston was locked in a tight race with the Tigers and Yankees and made the deadline deal.
Boddicker went 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA down the stretch as the Sox held off Detroit, New York and the hard-charging Blue Jays and Brewers to win the East.
* Those two prospects that Boston sent to Baltimore were Curt Schilling and Brady Anderson. Schilling didn't do much in Baltimore, but had an excellent career with Philadelphia and Arizona before going back to Boston and winning two titles. Anderson played 14 years for the Orioles and put up 32.2 bWAR as an Oriole.
The Red Sox had to deal with the Bash Brothers and the Oakland A's in the ALCS and dropped the first two games at Fenway. Boddicker got the ball in Game Three and was handed an early 5-0 lead. Boddicker gave it all back, serving up a big homer to Ron Hassey (who took him deep in his ML debut) and was knocked out in the third inning down 6-5. Oakland rolled to a sweep.
Boddicker won 15 games in 1989 and had a big year in 1990. He went 17-8 with a 3.36 ERA. His 5.7 bWAR ranked third among AL pitchers. Mike won his only Gold Glove and played a big part in the Red Sox winning another division title. The A's were waiting in the ALCS once again and swept the series. Boddicker went the distance in Game Three, holding the high-octane offense to two earned runs in eight innings, but took the loss.
He was a free agent after the season and signed with the Royals. After an average 1991 season, he battled injuries and ineffectiveness in 1992 before being sold to the Brewers. He was roughed up in ten starts for Milwaukee in 1993 before he retired at 35 with 134 career wins.
Boddicker is tied with Scott Erickson for the tenth-most wins of any pitcher in Baltimore Orioles history:
Boddicker recorded the sixth-most wins from 1983 to 1990. Here are pitchers with 100 wins over that span:
Here's the top 20 in bWAR among pitchers over that same time period:
The gap between #1 Clemens and #2 Stieb is the same as the one between Stieb and #14 Mark Gubicza. And Clemens totaled that in one fewer season!
He'll be 55 in August and he still throws batting practice (and gets it up to 75 MPH) for the youth team that his son coaches. He also passes the time on his five hunting farms in Iowa and Kansas.
He didn't have "great stuff" but he got the job done for a long time in the big leagues. Had he been left-handed, you could call him "crafty." As he told the Baltimore Sun in 2010, "I was pretty blessed in my career, given the mediocre crap that I threw up there."
Boddicker is still the last Oriole to win 20 games in a season. A vital member of Baltimore's last World Series winner in 1983, he had a very good career. And it all started at Bowen Field.
|SP 1||Dean Chance|
|SP 2||Mike Boddicker|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette|