FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Former Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd says he probably pitched under the influence of cocaine “at every ballpark” during his 10-year career.
“There wasn’t one ballpark that I probably didn’t stay up all night, until 4 or 5 in the morning, and the same thing is in your system,” Boyd said in an interview with Jon Miller of WBZ radio in Boston. “It ain’t like you had time to go and do it while you were in the game, which I have (done) that.” Boyd was 78-77 with a 4.04 ERA in his career. In eight seasons with the Red Sox, from 1982-89, he was 60-56. In his last two seasons, he was 18-21 with Montreal and Texas.
“Some of the best games that I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues, I stayed up all night. I’d say two-thirds of them,” he said Wednesday at JetBlue Park, where Boston holds spring training, “and if I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played and … I felt like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons.”
One of them, he said, was “bigotry.”
Boyd said he “wasn’t doing anything that hundreds of ballplayers weren’t doing at the time, because that’s how I learned it and I just caught the deep end of it. And the reason, too, also, that I caught the deep end of it (is) I’m black and the bottom line was that the game carries a lot of bigotry and that was just an easy way for them to do it.”
He said that “If I wasn’t outspoken and so-called ‘a proud, proud black man’ maybe I would have got empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn’t get; like a Darryl Strawberry or Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe. I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren’t outspoken black individuals.” The right-hander, now 52, said not all of his teammates supported him, but veterans like Dwight Evans, Bill Buckner and Don Baylor did.
He also said he never had a drug test during his baseball career, but was told that “if you don’t stop doing this, we’re going to put you into rehab, and I told them that I’m going to do what I got to do. I got to win ballgames. We’ll talk about that in the offseason, but right now I got to win ballgames.”
Boyd’s best seasons with the Red Sox were 1985, when he went 15-13 with a 3.70 ERA, and 1986 when he was 16-10 with a 3.78 ERA. An autobiography of Boyd, “They Call Me Oil Can: My Life in Baseball,” is scheduled for release in June.