Meagann Boggs, the 6-year-old daughter of Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, had it figured right. When filling out her 1985 All-Star ballot, she punched out both the name of her father and that of his good friend, fellow lefthanded batter and occasional houseguest, Kansas City's George Brett, as her selection for the American League's starting third baseman. "You can't do that, dear. They won't count your ballot if you vote for two," said Boggs's wife, Debbie.
"But I love Daddy and I love George. I can't vote for just one," said Meagann.
Apparently neither could American League All-Star manager Sparky Anderson. Though Brett beat Boggs by nearly a million votes, Anderson named Boggs to the team and later said of his two third basemen, "It's a shame they can't both play at once." Well, last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Brett and Boggs were at least on the field at the same time as Kansas City played host to Boston in a three-game series featuring a mano a mano batting showdown. Boggs (eight for 15) overtook Brett (two for 12), the man he unabashedly calls Idol, and moved into first place in the three-way race for the AL batting crown among Boggs (.354), Yankee centerfielder Rickey Henderson (.349), and Brett (.347).
Though both claim respect for Henderson, Brett and Boggs—friends since the day three years ago when Boggs, a rookie, introduced himself to Brett, already a two-time batting champion, "My name's Wade Boggs and you're my idol. Would you mind if I have my picture taken with you?"—seem eager for some friendly competition.
"I hope it comes down to us," Boggs was saying last week. "Naw, it wouldn't threaten the friendship."
"I don't think I could beat Wade if it got close [at the end]," says Brett. "He can get two or three hits a day for a week. I can't do that the way Wade can."
While the batting title was the most obvious prize Brett and Boggs were striving for, they were also using their bats to crunch out some other impressive numbers. At week's end, Boggs led the AL in hits (145), in multihit games (42), was third in on-base percentage (.443), third in doubles (30) and led Boston in hitting with men in scoring position (.400). He had also hit safely in 35 of his last 37 games (including this season's major league high of 28 straight, the third-longest streak in Sox history).
Meanwhile, despite a poor series against Boston, Brett was leading the AL in slugging percentage (.566) and was second in on-base percentage (.450). He was the AL's Player of the Month for July; he hit .432, and on the last day of the month got the 1,900th hit of his career.
Brett, whose .390 in 1980 was the major leagues' highest average in 40 years, is, at 32, the heir to Rod Carew as the league's preeminent hitter. Boggs, whose career batting average is .346, at 27 is Brett's heir apparent. Yet their rivalry is one without jealousy. When Brett treated Boggs to lunch Friday at Nabil's, a restaurant in Kansas City's chic Country Club Plaza, the conversation focused on Boggs's new home in Tampa and the golf they plan to play when Brett visits Boggs in January. (The competition will be close there, too, since both shoot in the mid-80s.) "We just like to horse around like buddies," says Brett.
"We talk about anything but baseball," says Boggs.