Wade Boggs was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 for racking up 3,010 hits over 18 seasons, primarily as a third baseman on the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
But Boggs' legendary on-field performance pales in comparison to the acting chops he displays in "Swamp Shark," the latest outlandish Syfy original movie arriving Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. As dimwitted lawman Deputy Stanley, he helps an evil sheriff (played by Robert Davi) cover up the accidental unleashing of a gigantic man-eating shark into the Louisiana bayou.
We interviewed Wade Boggs recently about what it was like playing a character not named Wade Boggs for the first time.
Fans of "Cheers" know that this isn't your first TV role.
Yeah, I got pantsed in “Bar Wars,” the number-one rated episode of "Cheers" all time. I’m very proud of that.
And you should be! How did you prepare for playing someone who isn’t you?
Basically, you just try to figure out what a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy would act like. So, you know, I just thought about all my conversations with [Yankee pitching legend] Ron Guidry and his being from Louisiana, and I tried to think how he would say the lines. And then it was just getting the Cajun swagger down a little bit. Deputy Stanley is sort of a cross between “Walking Tall” and Barney Fife.
The interview continues after the "Swamp Shark" trailer.
Deputy Stanley gets cold-cocked in one of his two big scenes. Is that you getting punched?
Yeah, they asked if I needed a stunt double and I said, “No, not really.” We rehearsed the scene a couple or three times, and I learned how to fall with a belt on against a wooden floor -- that made it sound more realistic than falling on a mattress and not having the gun hit the floor. That was kind of neat, doing your own stunts and getting punched out and trying to make it look as real as you possibly can.
You must have been involved in some brawls in your baseball days. Ever get hit?
I got punched from behind once. I remember getting punched from behind, sucker-punched. But the way they do it in the movies, it’s not any different than wrestling around with some of my wrestling buddies.
You were pals with Mr. Perfect [aka professional wrestling star Curt Hennig, who died in 2003]. Did he teach you how to take a fake punch?
No, actually, he just punched me all the time. He didn’t fake punches. He would punch me all the time. [Laughs] But you know, on camera, a lot of it’s done with angles. You get as close as you can, like in Wild West saloon brawls and all of that.
Your baseball superstitions, like eating chicken before every game, are well-documented. Did you bring any of those with you to the set?
No, not really. I’m not a big fan of the “break a leg” thing before you go on. Not a big fan of that comment. I haven’t been really superstitious once I left baseball, actually.
I think it was just something to bring luck. Mainly, superstitions and rituals and things of that nature are used to create a positive aura and create luck. I felt that I’d rather be lucky than good. That’s the aspect I kept bringing to baseball. The more superstitions I had, the better off I’d have of finding more luck.
How did baseball prepare you for acting?
I think athletes in general are actors. We perform in front of big crowds. People pay to come see you play. So, people come see you to basically act. I sort of correlate acting and athletics side by side because you’re both performing, and you’re both in front of people who want to see the product.
Forgive the baseball pun, but you’re kind of a natural.
Well, I’m a ham at heart. So, it fit right in. A couple weeks ago, I finished doing an episode of [the USA Network series] “Psych” in Vancouver.
Awesome. What happens in the episode?
Another part playing myself. A guy gets murdered, and it’s set around the baseball field. That kind of situation. I’m called in as a new hitting coach and the guy that hires me is involved with the murder. I come in and save the day at the end. It’ll be a cute episode.
Anything else in the works?
No, just waiting for the phone to ring. “Swamp Shark” came about because I was at a golf tournament with [co-star] Jeff Chase. He mentioned, “Hey, I’m doing a movie in Louisiana. You want to come do a bit part? I’ve already talked to the producers and they said they’d love to have you.” Maybe this is how things get started -- the snowball picks up and you just run with it.
Okay, we’ll get the word out that Wade Boggs wants to …
He’d love to act, yeah.
"Swamp Shark" airs Saturday, June 25, at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.