Next month it will be three years since Mitchell Boggs threw his last pitch as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. And as it turned out, that season was his last in the big leagues. But the unexpected finish to his career hasn’t prevented peace with his break from the game.
“I’m as happy as I’ve ever been,” shared Boggs. “Do I miss going out there in the 8th inning and slamming the door and shoving it down somebody’s throat and handing the ball to Jason Motte? Absolutely, I miss those days–always will. I could’ve played til I was 40 and I will miss those days because they were special. But at the same time, I’m extremely blessed and feel like I have a lot of opportunities in front of me.”
“It’s something that was very important to me to get done,” he said. “It’s been a blast. I never thought coaching would be something that would be in my future, but we’re led in different directions.”
And with the roller coaster his own career took from leading the National League in holds in 2012 to throwing his last pitch in the big leagues just a season later, Boggs hopes to be a resource for his new team.
“Yeah, absolutely and I hope so,” he agreed. “These guys have been great and they’ve come to me with a lot of different stuff. That’s one thing I do have–a lot of experiences in this game. Some of the very best experiences that you could possibly have and some of the very worst. And what I try to relay to these guys is as long as you’re working as hard as you possibly can, as long as you’re committed, as long as you’re doing the right things and you go out and compete to the best of your abilities–the results, the success, the failure–they don’t define you. They don’t make you who you are. What’s deep down and the way you go about your business makes you who you are.”
That philosophy has served him well in moving away from the game
“I am extremely proud of everything I did in my career–good and bad,” said Boggs. “I was extremely passionate about being a St. Louis Cardinals. I loved it. I loved the people, I loved the organization and what it meant. And I took great pride in going out there pitching and competing. When I didn’t get the job done, it was tough on me because I cared so much about the organization and being a part of that group.”
“What happened? I don’t know. I think I probably–I pitched so much there for those few years, that I just ran out of gas. Then in 2013, moving into the closer’s role and struggling right out of the gate, never really got my feet underneath me and when you’re in an organization like that, winning is the most important thing. And I wasn’t going out there and getting the job done so it was time to move on to the next guy.
“That’s how the business of baseball works, it’s ruthless and there’s no other way to say it. It’s a kid’s game but it’s run in an extremely adult manner. I understand that it’s a business and that’s part of it. When it was time for me to move on, I was very thankful for all the opportunities that I got as a Cardinals. I’m sure a lot of people will always remember how it ended, but like I have told some people–that was a month span of my career that was pretty poor in St. Louis and there were parts of five other seasons where I was really damn good. I’m proud of that and always will be.”
A trade to Colorado and then a chance with the Boston Red Sox never panned out and Boggs retired from the game.
“It wasn’t the same,” shared Boggs. “The Cardinals was such a special thing for me, it was hard to re-create that anywhere else. As time moved on, I just couldn’t do it the way I expected anymore. I expected to be very good every time I went out there, and when I couldn’t compete the way I expected to compete it was time for me to move on.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry, Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports