March Baseball Madness

Red Sox outfield prospect Bryce Brentz accidentally shot himself in the leg cleaning his gun just before spring training this year.  Brentz is not the first Red Sox prospect to recover from a gun injury during spring training. 

In 1978, left-handed pitching prospect Bobby Sprowl was shot in his left arm while sleeping in his Winter Haven, FL, apartment.  Sprowl’s neighbor told police that he thought he heard a burglar and his pistol accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through the wall of Sprowl’s bedroom.  Sprowl told reporters that he woke up out of a sound sleep, shouting, “I’ve been shot!”  Sprowl’s wife thought he was dreaming and told him to go back to sleep.

The good news is that Sprowl’s gunshot wound was only superficial and he quickly recovered to participate in spring training.  The bad news is that Sprowl never achieved the success forecast for him.  History doesn’t tell us if sleep deprivation was a factor in his failure to reach greatness.   

In 1985, Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was served with a warrant in the Red Sox clubhouse at Chain of Lakes Park for failing to pay charges associated with a long list of overdue X-rated videos.  Boyd told the press, “This is all a misunderstanding.”  The Boston media dubbed the incident “The Can’s Film Festival.”

In 1991, after a long evening at Christie’s Sundown Restaurant in Winter Haven, FL, future Hall of Fame member Wade Boggs fell from a jeep driven by his wife Debbie.  Boggs told Globe reporter Nick Cafardo, “I didn’t have my seatbelt on and my door wasn’t closed tightly.  The next thing I knew I was in the middle of Route 17, and the right rear tire was running over my right elbow.” 

At a previous spring training campBoggs had entertained reporters describing how he escaped injury from a knife-wielding assailant by, “willing himself invisible.”  Apparently there wasn’t time to use this technique in the jeep accident.  Alcohol may, or may not, have played a role in both incidents.

The biggest surprise of Boston spring training history occurred 60 years ago.  In February 1953, the Braves began spring training in Bradenton, FL, as the Boston Braves.  When spring-training came to an end, they left camp as the Milwaukee Braves.  The Braves became the first MLB team to switch cities since 1903, when the Baltimore Orioles moved to New York to become the Highlanders, and ultimately the Yankees. 

Back in the day, veteran ballplayers would send wide-eyed rookies in search of the keys to the batter’s box.  Today, many rookies report to camp in a BMW, talking to their agents on a smart phone.

 But Brentz’ unfortunate injury reminds us of an eternal truth: boys will always be boys!

Article written by

Herb Crehan is in his 21st season as a contributing writer for Red Sox Magazine, the team's official program. He is the author of two books on Red Sox history and he has contributed to five other books. He speaks frequently on Boston baseball history and he is the Editor of www.bostonbaseballhistory.com.

One Response

  1. Barb Mckeon
    Barb Mckeon February 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm | | Reply

    Great column!

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