He's 45 now, with a few extra pounds on his wiry frame and a less lively fastball, but in terms of self-esteem Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd is in his prime. "I'm blessed with a persona where people want to see Oil Can Boyd pitch," says the colorful righthander, a fixture in the Red Sox rotation and Boston's tabloids in the 1980s. The Can is giving the people what they want: Fourteen years after his last major league start, he's mounting a comeback with the independent Brockton (Mass.) Rox this season.
Like his hero, Satchel Paige, Boyd wants to pitch into middle age and beyond. He says he's healthy--his career was cut short by blood clots in his shoulder--and is throwing nearly 90 mph, almost as hard as he did when he went 78--77 in 10 major league seasons. "He's smart and has a world of confidence," says Rox manager Ed Nottle. "I think he'll be fine."
Boyd hopes the comeback will stir interest in Oil Can Boyd's Traveling Baseball Show, a barnstorming team of ex--major leaguers he's launching in 2006. (He also dreams of owning a minor league team.) But Boyd, who famously erupted when he wasn't chosen for the 1986 All-Star Game, is after more than publicity. "If they pick an All-Star team in this league, I will make it," he says. And if he doesn't? "I might throw a fit."