Souhan: Boswell was a character as well as a competitor

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 13, 2012 - 7:09 AM

Former pitcher Dave Boswell, who died Monday, is remembered fondly by Twins teammates and execs as a battler on the mound. And after games, too.

Pitcher Dave Boswell joined the Twins as a 19-year-old in 1964 and won 20 games in 1969, but hurt his arm in the 1969 postseason and left baseball after 1971.

Photo: John Croft, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Most of the stories told about Dave Boswell begin on the mound or in a bar, and then there are those that begin on the mound and end in a bar.

"Actually, they always end the same," Clark Griffith said. "With lots of beer."

Boswell won 20 games for the Twins in 1969 and pitched in the 1965 World Series and the '69 American League Championship Series. Monday night, he died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Joppa, Md. He was 67.

"I have a baseball card of Dave on the bookshelf in my office," Griffith said. "I hadn't looked at it for years. For some reason that I'll never understand, Monday afternoon, I turned and looked at it and said, 'Ah, Boswell.' It was like somebody was trying to tell me something."

They played Legion ball against each other when Griffith was growing up in Washington and Boswell was the son of a steel worker living in a tough section of Baltimore. Buck Boswell, his father, would carry a 10-gallon crab pot and a "stomper" in his trunk to shape the high school mounds on which Dave would pitch.

Griffith became a Twins executive. Boswell became a phenom.

He broke into the bigs in 1964 at the age of 19, winning his first two decisions. In 1969, he started Game 2 of the ALCS against Baltimore. It was the pinnacle, and undoing, of his career.

"Bos was such a great competitor," Tony Oliva said. "He was talking in the dugout, saying, 'Just get me one run, just one run.' We didn't."

Boswell pitched 10 shutout innings. Baltimore's Dave McNally pitched 11. In the bottom of the 10th, Boswell threw a slider to strike out Frank Robinson. "It felt like my shoulder went right into my jawbone," Boswell would tell the Fort Myers News-Press years later. "The arm would actually turn black and run all the way down to the elbow."

After five full seasons in which he never posted an ERA higher than 3.40, Boswell would see his ERA climb to 6.42 with the Twins in 1970 and 4.66 with the Tigers and Orioles in 1971. He wouldn't pitch in the majors again.

"He was a good roommate," said former Twins player and manager Frank Quilici. "They put me in his room so I would settle him down, and after three years I thought I was going his way. But that was a good way to go."

Sometimes it was a tough way to go. Boswell is more famous for a punch he took than any pitch he threw.

On Aug. 7, 1969, the Twins were playing in Detroit. Most visiting ballplayers would frequent the Lindell AC, a bar near Tiger Stadium.

That day, Boswell refused to run with the other pitchers, citing a blister on his foot. When manager Billy Martin saw him at the bar, he confronted Boswell, who eventually advertised his intent to get back at pitching coach Art Fowler for complaining to Martin.

Boswell found himself in an alley with outfielder Bob Allison, a Martin ally. Boswell knocked down Allison. Martin knocked down Boswell. Boswell required 20 stitches in his head. Martin said he won a fair fight.

"There were two guys from the Lindell holding Bos' arms," Griffith said. "Boswell was furious about that right up through ... Monday.

"Boswell was really strong. He would have killed Martin if he had had the chance."

Boswell would work briefly for the Twins as a scout. He worked for beer distributors and at fantasy camps and as a pitching coach for hire. "He's the kind of guy who today would be making $6 million a year and wouldn't have a care in the world," Griffith said. "But he didn't pitch in those days. He pitched in a time when players didn't make that much and the pension was not that great."

Boswell had beaten cancer. "I thought he was better," Oliva said. "That's why I was so surprised to hear the news. His wife called my wife [Tuesday] morning and had a long talk."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel played with Boswell but hadn't heard from him in years before Boswell reached him recently. "He had been out of the hospital four or five days," Manuel said. "He had had open heart surgery. We talked about him coming fishing with me over the winter."

Quilici remembers an opponent spiking him at second base. "Bos said, 'Wait until I pitch to that guy, he won't walk for a week,' " Quilici said. "Next time, Bos stuck a fastball in his ribs. The guy was rolling around on the ground. Bos walks up and says, 'Take that, you SOB.' "

"I miss him," Griffith said. "When I traveled with the team, we always went out after his starts, either to lament the disaster that had occurred or to celebrate the enormous victory. The results were similar."

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 84 4th Qtr
New Orleans 89
Indiana 79 4th Qtr 9:14
Orlando 86
LA Clippers 89 4th Qtr 11:19
Phoenix 78
Minnesota 77 4th Qtr 12:00
Atlanta 86
Detroit 48 2nd Qtr 3:28
Toronto 47
Milwaukee 48 2nd Qtr 3:51
San Antonio 40
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 17 3rd Prd 2:52
Team Foligno 11
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 53 2nd Half 11:14
NC State 53
Belmont 28 2nd Half 17:01
Tennessee St 34
Creighton 14 2nd Half
Villanova 29
Northwestern 17 1st Half 11:55
Maryland 11
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 70 2nd Half 1:16
UCLA 53
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close