In a startling interview with WBZ Radio in Fort Myers, Fla., famed former Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd admits to being under the influence of cocaine in “two-thirds” of the games he pitched.
The star player who bowed out of baseball at the young age of 31 is currently promoting his forthcoming autobiography, “They Call Me Oil Can: My Life in Baseball.” Boyd, who pitched in the majors during the ’80s and spent eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox, revealed that his teammates knew about his rampant drug use.
All of them knew and the ones that cared came to me — the Dwight Evanses and Bill Buckners. It was the veteran ballplayers. Some guys lived it. They knew what you were doing, and the only way they knew was they had to have tried it, too.
Boyd admitted to using 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. I have (done) that.
During his ball playing career, Boyd, 52, who also played with the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers after leaving Boston, was known for having a standout personality that endeared him to fans. Boyd’s nickname “Oil Can” originated from his beer-drinking days, when he was a youth in Meridian, Miss. The southern town refers to beer as “oil.”
In a 10-season career, Boyd collected a 78-77 record with 799 strikeouts. From 1983-85 Boyd won 31 games for Boston, with 15 victories in 1985. Soon after these career highs, Boyd had three disappointing years with the Red Sox and became a free agent and left the team.
Boyd attributes his rather short-lived baseball career to not only drugs but bigotry in the league:
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. If I wasn’t outspoken and a so-called ‘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 also admitted that he was never subjected to taking a drug test during his playing years.
Boyd developed blood clots in his right arm, which ended a playing career so full of potential. Trying to emulate his idol Satchel Paige, who pitched well into his 50’s, Boyd tried to make a major league comeback at age 49, but after an 18-year layoff, it was too late.
Now the retired player who has placed his drug demons behind him is pitching his book instead. Surprisingly, Boyd isn’t remorseful about the choices he’s made in his career:
I lived through my life and I feel good about myself, he says. I have no regrets about what I did or said about anything that I said or did. I’m a stand-up person and I came from a quality background of people.