Did Wade Boggs Seriously Drink 64 Cans of Miller Lite on a Cross Country Flight?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Wade Boggs once drank 64 cans of Miller Lite on a cross-country flight.

Wade Boggs was one of the best third baseman in Major League Baseball history and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Boggs also happened to be quite a drinker.

Boggs played for the New York Yankees for a number of years (even winning the World Series with the Yankees in 1996)…

While there he played with pitcher Jeff Nelson for a couple of seasons…

Nelson was on a radio show in 2004 when he made some interesting claims about Boggs’ drinking habits

Nelson: Oh, I’d say, on a typical road trip, east coast to west coast, say a road game to Seattle……Wade would drink anywhere between 50 and 60 beers.

Show’s Host: NO WAY!! 50 or 60 beers. That is impossible.

Nelson: No, I know…I know how crazy that sounds, and I wouldn’t believe it myself unless I saw him do it…..numerous times. And he drank nothing but Miller Lite.

Host: How in the hell did he have time to drink that many beers. For God’s sake, how many times did he have to go to the bathroom?

Nelson: I’m not kidding you Steve. Seriously. Wade was the kind of guy who was always the first one at the club house. So he’d get to the clubhouse, and he’d bring a six pack with him. He’d be there drinking a beer when someone showed up, and as we were all packing our stuff up out of our lockers and getting our bags ready for the trip, Wade would sit there and drink that whole six pack.

Now, at the time, we were flying out of New Jersey, so it was somewhat of a drive from Yankee stadium to the airport in New Jersey. Wade would drink another couple of beers on the bus to the airport. At the time, we were flying this older airplane, it couldn’t make it across the country without refueling, and it wasn’t the fastest airplane in the sky. So we would stop in North Dakota or something. Wade would drink about a half rack between New Jersey and North Dakota, and it would take about a half-hour to an hour to refuel once we got there, so he’d have a few more beers while we were grounded in North Dakota.

Once we got back up in the air, Wade would drink another 10, 11, 12 beers on the way out to the west coast. The whole flight from coast to coast ususally took us well over 7 hours. We’d touch down at Sea-Tac, hop on the bus headed to the Kingdome, and Wade would have another beer or two on the bus. Then, all of us would get to the Kingdome and unpack our bags and sit around and BS with eachother, and Wade would have a beer in his hand the entire time. He was always one of the last people to leave the club house too. So I’d say that all in all, he drank over 50 beers on the trip, and this wasn’t just an isolated incident, he did that almost every time.

Boggs finished his career on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays…

and while there, he played with Paul Sorrento…

who also had played with Nelson in Seattle.

So Nelson called up Sorrento to verify his tale…

Nelson: Yeah, alright Paul, I need you to answer one question for me, truthfully now….How many beers would Wade Boggs drink on an east coast to west coast road trip?

Sorrento: Oh, jeez, (exhaling like a flat tire) I don’t know, like 70.

Boggs was asked about the story on Pardon the Interruption soon after his election in 2005, and he denied it. He admitted that he would drink a lot of beers, but not nearly that many.

So let’s take a look into seeing if this story is legit…

Let’s just do the math – Boggs’ playing weight was 197 pounds, cans of Miller Lite are 12 ounces and contain 4.2% alcohol. The story is supposedly that it happened over a 10 hour period.

So in that case, let’s just go with 50 cans of Miller Lite. Over 10 hours that would result in a Blood Alcohol Content of roughly 0.552 That’s over the level of alcohol poisoning!

To put it into perspective, 0.08 is basically drunk, so that would be nearly SEVEN TIMES that!

That’s not even getting into other logistical problems with the story. Forget the beer itself, the human body typically can’t handle that much liquid period. Again, only going with 50 beers here (and the most common story is 64), that’s roughly two liters of alcohol an hour. The human liver can only safely process one liter of liquid per hour. A 28-year-old woman died in 2007 after drinking six liters of WATER in three hours. That’s roughly how many liters of BEER Boggs would have to drink in the same time period for the 50 beers story to work. That just doesn’t make sense logistically.

So I think it’s safe to say that Wade Boggs did not drink 64 Miller Lites on a cross country trip, but I’ll certainly allow that he likely drank an ungodly amount of beer.

EDITED TO ADD ON JANUARY 23, 2015: Boggs has now decided to fully embrace the story, as the hit comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia built a whole episode around Boggs’ fabled drinking. One of the actors from the show, Charlie Day, was on The Tonight Show and Day says Boggs told him his record on cross-country flights was 107 beers.

Clearly, Boggs is going with the old Liberty Valance adage, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

But for us, the legend is…


Thanks to Tasty Booze for the transcript (dead link)!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

12 Responses to “Did Wade Boggs Seriously Drink 64 Cans of Miller Lite on a Cross Country Flight?”

  1. […] are many legendary stories surrounding Wade Boggs. There is the urban legend claiming that he drank 64 beers on a road trip. There are the stories of his fried chicken habit. […]

  2. Your analysis is grounded in the false assumption that everyone processes alcohol the same way. There are 200 pound guys who can get drunk on three drinks and 140 pound guys who are sober after 10 beers. Boggs may have just had insane tolerance.

  3. Of course people have different tolerances, and I’m sure Boggs had a very high tolerance. But we’re not talking him having, say, a 0.2 blood alcohol level. If it was that, that’d be really high but it’d be within the realm of possibility. But we’re talking over a 0.5. And for a guy who was just going about his business and continuing to function. That’s just not happening.

  4. […] of all the Boggsy stories, the most legendary probably involve his beer-drinking. Was it 50 or 64 beers that Boggs would regularly throw down on cross-country […]

  5. […] of all the Boggsy stories, the most legendary probably involve his beer-drinking. Was it 50 or 64 beers that Boggs would regularly throw down on cross-country […]

  6. Just to chime in (after watching It’s Always Sunny about the record) my uncle, who is a recovered alcoholic once showed up to work with a 0.44 blood alcohol level. As the company had sent him to rehab numerous times he was always selected when they did random drug and alcohol screenings weekly. Whenever the machine showed a BAC over 0.08 it was mandatory that the machine be completely cleaned and recalibrated which took around an hour. Once retested he blew a 0.39. This was at 8am in the morning showing up to work, so he was at least functional enough to swipe his ID card to get in at this ludicrous level. Also as he had worked the night before until 6pm he had at most a 14 hour window. I dunno what alcohol he consumed to get to this rate, but this alone makes me think the story is true.

  7. Everyone differs in metabolism/tolerence. My mother is a nurse and has stories of people with BAC well over the level for poisoning. For anyone that has drank a “few” after work for a few years. Has your perception of what constitutes a “few” changed? Alcoholism over many years creates a tolerence for alcohol seen as unhuman by non drinkers.

  8. […] Wade Boggs beer-drinking stories get better with time. Did he drink 50, 64 or 107 in 24 […]

  9. […] a story that is over a decade old. Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson gave a radio interview in 2004 and casually mentioned that Boggs had been capable of downing “50 or 60 beers” on a cross-country flight. In 2006, […]

  10. I took 21 shots of liquor in an hour and a half on my 21st birthday, and was not a big drinker prior. While yes I was drunk I was not wasted, could kept drinking. It really matters who you are. I have chugged an entire handle of makers after day drinking and then continued to drink and in my entire Life i have yet to have even the slightest hangover. I can confidently say Ive killed well over 50 beers in a single day and within 10 hours. Thats a pace of just 5 a hour.

  11. As a Canadian and someone who enjoys the beverages, back in the day we used to have a contest, wed call it “the case race” first one to drink 24 beers wins. Now we were in our early 20’s and would drink 2-3 days a week hard just pure beers, back when we were partying hard and we had guys at 200, 230, 250 and 300 pounds buddies of ours in these contests, guys who could booze. The fastest time ever clocked was 5 hours and the guy puked hard and was hammered, he was 300 pounds and his tolerance was high. There is ZERO way you could intake 50 beers (caloric and alcohol wise) in lets say 9 hours, maybe Andre the Giant, but otherwise its not happening.

  12. I frequently see patients with BAC >500. They’re not usually in a position to play major league ball, but they’re often walking. I would take issue with the idea that 550 is some how out of the realm of possibility

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