Former Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd has made some headlines recently admitting that he used cocaine during the entire 1986 season. In his new book “They Call Me Oil Can: Baseball, Drugs, and Life on the Edge,” Boyd describes his addiction to drugs, racism he received while playing in the MLB and much more. The following interview contains strong, profane language and genuine emotion that Boyd still feels today about his career in MLB. This bizarre sports radio interview is one that the city of Boston sure won’t ever forget. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd joined WEEI in Boston with Dennis & Callahan to discuss growing up in a tough lifestyle in the South, doing cocaine during the 1986 season, admitting that he still smokes marijuana, if he thinks he’d have been a better pitcher if he didn’t use drugs, and Wade Boggs being a bigot.
Can you give us a description of the tough lifestyle you grew up in as a child?
“I grew up in the South. That’s how I got my nickname. The whole environment in the South is infested with a lot of illiteracy and a lot of poverty and broken hearts, things that are in a disarray. It leads to a life of despair where alcohol takes a toll especially in southern Black life where there is liquor stories everywhere. Basically it’s infested environment to where you mix poverty and you mix up vodka and whiskey. It’s just a bad atmosphere. Along with that you see a lot of broken homes and a lot of broken lives and a lot of broken spirits. As a kid growing up in that environment you can definitely be accustomed to consuming this kind of life and this kind of life eats you up. I experienced drinking when I was small because I had parents that drank. I had uncles that drank, grandparents that drank, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends, everybody. I grew up in that environment, seeing people drink cheap whiskey all the time and destroy their lives. Basically, it was really not destroy your life, your life is already destroyed. You’re a slave descendant. So, this is some kind of way to drown your sorrows type thing.”
You had told Buster Olney you had been under the influence of cocaine during the 1986 season. You had a pretty good year. Would you have been better if you weren’t using cocaine?
“I have been under the influence of cocaine on the mound, but it’s a difference if you’re talking about, ‘Did I smoke it five minutes before I went out to pitch?’ No. No. I might have smoked it that night [before], and then go to bed and got up and went and pitched the next day, if you understand where I’m coming from. So, I can’t say. I can say that I would have been better. I don’t regret that at all, not in an arrogant way. There’s a lot of things to testify to the attitude why I would take that and say it like that. I don’t regret it. I don’t. It’s an abomination. A lot of people’s lives are in despair behind this…I would call it, it’s more than a menace to society. It’s really, really bad. There’s a lot of stuff going on out there in the real world. The whole thing is, I was 16-10 [in 1986].
I missed a month, and I was 16-10. And even being 16-10, I still felt like I should have been 20-6, if you understand what I’m saying. That’s how good a ballplayer I was. Yes, I did take for granted how good a ballplayer I was. I was blessed with a very uncanny, super ability to play baseball, not to pitch a baseball. I am a baseball player. I know the game inside and out and yes as a young kid I didn’t really acknowledge where I was and I didn’t make a big deal of what it was. It’s a job. It was just a time in my life where I was a young kid learning about life and I could pitch. I came to the major leagues at a very young age and the world closes down on me too a a very young age. I wasn’t ready for all the other [expletive] that came with pitching in the major leagues.”
So you are admitting that you still smoke marijuana?
“I smoke pot. Yes, I do. [Host: You are high right now?] Yeah and before I become a hypocrite and say that I don’t do something I’ve been doing it since I was 12 years old. When there ain’t no more [marijuana] out there, then maybe you can ask me that question. I do the best I can. I fight day in and day out for the last 25 years. This ain’t no new thing. For the last 25 years. And I’m doing real well. But I don’t think about it like that. I don’t dwell, like I did. I learn about the substance and I learn about what it was about and and how it affects me and how it was with me in my life.”
So do you feel you would have been a better ballplayer if you didn’t smoke?
“It don’t work like that. I got to the major leagues smoking weed. I made my high school baseball team smoking weed. I’m in my college Hall of Fame. I’m in my conference Hall of Fame. And I feel like this: If I’d have went to bed and got my rest, I’d have been in New York, in Cooperstown, in the Hall of Fame. I wasn’t no good ballplayer, I was a great baseball player.”
So do you think Wade Boggs is a bigot?
“I don’t think it, I know it. He was raised like that. His daddy was. I’ve spoken with his dad. His dad was. The boy was raised like that. All of it ain’t his fault. Huh. All of it ain’t his fault. It’s inherited. It’s passed down. He used the word n***** every day. Every day. … Every day it come out of his mouth. Every day. Yeah, he talked about just like it wasn’t [expletive], like it was common talk. He learned that. That’s not uncommon for a kid that grew up in Florida. [Host: So Boggs said it all the time?] Every damn time he did it. That’s why there was so much controversy with me. But the bottom line was that’s just the way Wade is. I was made out to be the bad guy because I questioned that [expletive].”