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Oil Can Boyd used crack every day of the 1986 season, not that thankful for Jackie Robinson

May 2, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

Oil Can Boyd

Earlier in the year Oil Can Boyd came out with a tell-all book and one of the things he told-all about was his cocaine use. At the time he said he used cocaine before two-thirds of his starts in the majors. He was on ESPN’s E:60 last night, however, and he told Buster Olney that 1986 was a bit more extreme than that:

Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, who pitched eight of his 10 major league seasons with the Boston Red Sox, says he used crack cocaine every day of the 1986 season while with the Red Sox, including one day in Oakland when he smoked in the clubhouse before one of his starts and had the drug tucked in his cap while on the mound.

Boyd started one game in Oakland in 1986. On May 11. His line: 7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K and he allowed three homers. One of the homers was to Jose Canseco, making it the most drugged up homer in the history of baseball, I’d reckon. UPDATE: Nope, Villageidiom of Baseball Think Factory reminds me: “Darryl Strawberry hit a HR off Boyd on April 21, 1990.” So, touche.

Boyd went on, however. The son of a Negro Leaguer himself, he talked about the Negro Leagues, his character and legacy, and in doing so was pretty damn provocative:

Boyd, who was known for his flamboyance and volatility during his big league career, also said he regrets the Negro Leagues were broken up because of the loss of individuality that thrived in the leagues.

“I’m not real thankful to Jackie (Robinson) at all because I’m me, my style of baseball, the way I played it in the major leagues transpired from the Negro Leagues,” said Boyd, whose father played in the Negro Leagues. “So that’s why people found that I was a hot dog or I was flamboyant.

“Now the kids don’t even know the ballplayers anymore, it’s so commercialized. And they wonder where the black ballplayer went. Well, black ballplayers went to jail. In the last 20 years, that’s where they are.”

They also didn’t make the kind of money Boyd did in his career or have the kind of professional freedom and respectful treatment by hotel and restaurant operators, fans, the public  and the press. So, sure, while I kind of get the point he’s trying to make about what was lost with the loss of the Negro Leagues, he may want to rethink how thankful he was for Jackie Robinson.

  1. hasbeen5 - May 2, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    Obviously the crack use continues

  2. wendell7 - May 2, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Why again does anyone care what Boyd thinks or says?

    • paperlions - May 2, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      Just going to hazard a guess here…but….maybe because people with different backgrounds, histories, and experiences bring different perspectives on issues. If nothing else, such perspectives should make everyone coming at the issue from a different view point re-consider what their opinion is about that issue and why people that have different opinions may be justified in having those opinions.

      ….or not.

      • wendell7 - May 2, 2012 at 9:27 AM

        Sure … and a little self-generated bad publicity is better than no publicity. Especially when you have a new book coming out.

      • paperlions - May 2, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        I didn’t say anything about why Boyd is talking….just why people may want to consider alternative view points….and my guess is that the view point of Boyd, which was shaped by his life experiences, is distinct from yours as well as most baseball fans.

        Rejecting the viewpoint of someone with far more personal experience related to a topic/issue without consideration of the viewpoint is myopic and small minded.

      • leucas66 - May 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        Yeah – I was thinking on Jackie Robinson day how we’ve canonized the guy so much that we fail to see him as an exciting, talented baseball player anymore. No one talks about his game. Even though this is a provocative comment, and we don’t know why he made it, he is approaching the discussion of JR from a different angle, which is good to see. No one feels comfortable anymore discussing him other than as an icon of integration.

      • tuftsb - May 2, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        You are correct. There is the perception and reality issue that has to be addressed. A reading of Howard Bryant’s “Shut Out” would give people a clue as to how Boyd acted.

        In addition, think about perception and reality as it related to the rumored blowing up of levees in the 9th ward of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and how the story was spread and accepted by the Africa-American community. Why? Well in an earlier flood in 1927, the US Government did order the destruction of upstream levees and intentionally flood areas that were almost exclusively African-American.

        You may know the story through music and the Led Zeppelin cover of “When the Levee Breaks” written by Memphis Minnie and kansas City Joe McCoy.

        I am not vouching for the accuracy of certain comments, but you have to try to understand the historical reasons behind some of them.

  3. hojo20 - May 2, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    “One of the homers was to Jose Canseco, making it the most drugged up homer in the history of baseball, I’d reckon.”

    Steve Howe must’ve given up a few homers to users as well..

    • gerryb323 - May 2, 2012 at 8:46 AM

      Plus, if you’re in the “Everybody was doing it camp”, a fair number of homers in the 90’s would likely qualify as well….

      • sabatimus - May 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        Not to mention the fact that amphetamines (what Howe had in his system when he crashed and died) are performance-enhancing–which means Hank Aaron “was doing it” too, though Howe never pitched to him.

  4. bigleagues - May 2, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Boyd’s career is really sad to me. He had a world of talent and ability and while it was long known that he had a problem with alcohol, the revelations from the last several months better explains his precipitous fall and eventual exit from the game.

    From 1984 to 1986 (Age 24-26) Boyd had 33 Complete Games and 6 Shutouts.

    Everyone just assumed (were led to believe) he threw his arm out after throwing 270+ Innings in 1985, even though he had a solid ’86. Now we know it was much more than alcohol (which is bad enough) and a dead arm.

    In my lifetime he’s one of the all-time Could’a, Should’a, Would’a Beens. And that isn’t anything but sad given the circumstances of his battle with addiction.

  5. charlutes - May 2, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Crack you say? and he was able to go 7 4 hit innings? might have to call shenanigans.

    • bigleagues - May 2, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      Crack is just a more toxic, less refined version of cocaine, which of course is a stimulant.

      In any event, the one that would have prompted me to call shenanigans was the story of Dock Ellis’ trippin on LSD No-hitter . . . except for the fact that it’s 100% true:

      I’m not making an endorsement of anyone who’d attempt to match Ellis’ ‘psychedelic achievement’ but each persons body has a slightly different chemistry. In Ellis case he was also using stimulants and had developed a tolerance to harder drugs via repeated use.

      So that Boyd used regularly and still had some success along the way isn’t really the amazing thing. It’s that he used such a destructive toxic street drug so much and for so long, and he’s still alive to talk about it that is the truly amazing thing.

    • nodaclu - May 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

      Well, it *was* against the pre-Tony LaRussa, Jackie Moore managed Oakland A’s. I’m pretty sure even I could have had decent outings against that sad-sack bunch in the early to mid-80’s.

  6. aceshigh11 - May 2, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    What an ungrateful jerk. Doin’ Red Sox Nation proud there, Oil Can.

    But at least we now know that the ’86 Mets weren’t the only team coked-up to the gills.

  7. toegoat - May 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Yea and Doc Ellis (supposedly) pitched a no hitter on LSD for the Pirates around that time…

  8. Jonny 5 - May 2, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    This guy still has his head planted firmly between two Glutes. Jackie Robinson Is and always will be a national treasure. I still believe he did more positive for this country than any other civil rights leader ever did besides MLK.

  9. homelanddefense - May 2, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    like this is a surprise to anyone? The man used to talk to himself on the mound….full conversations. I was 7 in 1986 and even I knew this guy was crazy/on drugs.

  10. mybrunoblog - May 2, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    When asked about blacks in baseball today Boyd said ” Well, black players went to jail” ….Hey, can we get a collection and bail them out? The Yanks are desperate for decent starting pitching.

    This guy sounds like a mess.

  11. unlost1 - May 2, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    was cocaine against the rules back then?

    • jwbiii - May 2, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      After 1985, yes.

    • aceshigh11 - May 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      I still have a hard time with this distinction.

      Possessing cocaine was illegal in 1985, so isn’t it implied that would be against MLB’s rules as well?

      Same with steroids after 1990. It’s just weird to me that MLB would have to explicitly ban something that the government already declared illegal.

      • jwbiii - May 2, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        What sanctions does your employer take if you are guilty of a misdemeanor?

        Not hypothetical.

  12. sfm073 - May 2, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Why are we giving this guy any attention?

    • Old Gator - May 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      I agree. In my quest for lucidity and understanding, I would much rather listen to Luke Scott or Curt Schilling.

    • sabatimus - May 2, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      I don’t know, why are you?

  13. racksie - May 2, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    toegoat – May 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Yea and Doc Ellis (supposedly) pitched a no hitter on LSD for the Pirates around that time…
    June 12 1970. Close, though.

  14. 1historian - May 2, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    The man was, and remains – an idiot.

    Next question.

  15. plmathfoto - May 2, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Craig, the last line, you said he should rethink, that would imply that he thought to begin with.

  16. mungman69 - May 2, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Smoking crack and then pitching. Does crack make your fastball faster or something?

  17. frankvzappa - May 2, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Well spoke, Oil Can. I’m sure the politically correct pukebags are banging down your door right now, but it takes guts to express an opinion like that in the former land of free speech. Like when Bob Dylan suggested that the South should have won the civil war because it would have preserved states’ rights and prevented the police state we see today, sometimes the opposite of what you have believed your entire life turns out to be the real truth. Not that I totally agree, but it takes great mental strength to consider such things and voice such considerations.

    And that reference to the police state Amerika locking up more of its’ own citizens than any civilized country in the history of the world and thus depriving the world of black athletes is simply brilliance. Hey, have a nice one, guy.

    • metalhead65 - May 2, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      frank zappa’s music sucked major balls!

      • stex52 - May 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        Don’t blame the original Frank Zappa. He would disavow this stuff.

      • frankvzappa - May 2, 2012 at 7:07 PM

        You might be the dumbest person I have ever stooped low enough to respond to.

      • metalhead65 - May 2, 2012 at 8:00 PM

        dumb? I am not the one with the stupid user name. says allot when you are most know for a song about yellow snow. made the mistake of listening to one of his records one time ,was worst piece of garbage ever! right up there with the greatful dead for worst band of all time.

      • frankvzappa - May 2, 2012 at 11:04 PM

        Frank Zappa used stupid lyrics because he didn’t want stupid people listening to his music. There are barriers set up so that if you are so stupid and so unaware of how brilliant the MUSIC behind the lyrics is, then you don’t deserve to listen to his music. Only people with high IQs can appreciate FZ, so that explains why you fail to appreciate him. Simple, really. And if you even knew anything about metal, you would know that Dream Theater are gods of the genre, and they revere FZ as highly as is possible. I could go on, but you have had enough.

      • metalhead65 - May 2, 2012 at 11:40 PM

        hust because dream theater like him does not mean he had any effect on their music. nothing they have done sounds remotly like zappa thankfully.

  18. stex52 - May 2, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    The trolls are out early today.

  19. Mark Armour - May 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    After Boyd bolted the team in 1986 because he did not make the All-Star team, just one year after he had bolted the team in 1985 for not making the All-Star team, the team tried to send him to a psychiatrist. One of the writers in the Globe suggested that he might have been using drugs, and he (and I believe his agent) went on a rant about how he was mistreated by the town and city because he was black. The drug accusation in particular was held us as proof of racism by the press. I am sure his apology is forthcoming.

    In Howard Bryant’s book on racism in Boston, he also hauled out this story to tar the team and city (as he hauled out other odd stories for similar purposes).

  20. toegoat - May 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    racksie May 2, 2012, 10:19 AM EDT

    toegoat –May 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Yea and Doc Ellis (supposedly) pitched a no hitter on LSD for the Pirates around that time… —————————June 12 1970. Close, though.
    Ya actually, the date wasn’t the point. I could care less about when it happened. Ur sarcasm isn’t funny. Close,though.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 2, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      I have no idea what you wrote. I almost did, though.

      Is that the funny part?

  21. kevinbnyc - May 2, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I didn’t know Boyd pitched for the Mets in 86.

  22. toegoat - May 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    u must not be able to read English…. clearly I cut and pasted and didn’t “write” anything…. weirdo

  23. toegoat - May 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    The funny part is a weirdo (YOU) more interested in analyzing my comment directed at somebody else as opposed to writing something relavent. Good job, ur mother must be proud of ur insanely funny, spontaneous, clever, quit-witted attempt at humor.

  24. bbil2012 - May 2, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I begrudgingly apologize to you John McNamara. You were right.

  25. ridiculousbacon - May 7, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    I fuckin’ love crack personally, and it’s BS that it’s bad for you. My dealer always tells me, “A rock a day, keeps the doctor away…”

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