The local high school team was always among the best in the state, as was the town team. Norway High, with an enrollment of 140, has won 15 state titles in fall, spring and summer seasons; the most recent came this fall. But it might not be correct to say that Norway is a great baseball town because there's nothing else to do. If that were the case, Norway, which per capita must have more pool tables than any other place in the world, would be producing billiard aces by the bunch.
None of the major-leaguers Norway has helped produce has ever strayed too far from home when not playing. Trosky Sr. kept his house in Norway, and the Van Scoyocs now live in it. Trosky Jr. is in Cedar Rapids, and Kimm resides in nearby Amana and sells TVs in the offseason at the Montgomery Ward in Cedar Rapids. Boddicker also shows no signs of budging, even though his agent, Ron Shapiro, has suggested he live year-round in Baltimore to take advantage of business opportunities there. "You can't move a Boddicker if a Boddicker doesn't want to move," says Mike's wife, Lisa. For The Music Man Meredith Willson wrote a song called Iowa Stubborn. The Boddickers are Iowa stubborn.
Mike's ancestors were among Norway's original settlers, having emigrated from Westphalia, Germany and gone into farming just outside of town in 1861. Mike's father, Harold—or Bus, as he was commonly known—was second generation, and he worked what is known as a hammer mill; he'd go from farm to farm with the mill in a wagon and grind grain. But the times did away with that business, and Bus became the custodian at the elementary school.
Mike was the last of Bus and Dolly's five children. Bus died when Mike was 10, and Mike's sisters and brothers helped Dolly raise him. "I used to think my oldest sister, Karen [who's 19 years Mike's senior], was my aunt," says Mike. "I remember being really surprised when I found out. She spanked me enough."
Dolly is still very much the matriarch of the family, and she's the biggest baseball fan. She's crippled by arthritis, and watches the Cubs every opportunity she gets. "Ernie Banks was my alltime favorite," she says.
"What about me, Ma?" asks Mike, who has come over for his apple pie.
"Oh, you're all right," she says. "People are always asking me if there's anything wrong with Mike. I say, well, there is one thing. When he comes home he dresses like a bum. Look at him."
Mike isn't the first athlete in the family. Bus was a good local catcher. Richard (or Butch), the elder of Mike's two brothers, was a legendary slugger in Norway, and the University of Iowa, which is only 30 minutes away in Iowa City, offered him a scholarship. But Butch turned it down, preferring to stay in Norway. He gets up at 3 a.m. each day to drive a Colonial bread truck. Mike's other brother, Robert, was a pretty good player, too, until he broke his clavicle. Now he's the human dynamo, teaching junior high, digging graves, mowing lawns, etc. Sheryl was a basketball player and a pretty fair pitcher in fast-pitch Softball.
"When Mike was a little kid, the only thing he ever played with was his little ball," says Sheryl. "Never touched his guns or his little red wagon."
Van Scoyoc first saw Mike play when he was courting Sheryl, and five years later he was coaching his brother-in-law in high school. Van Scoyoc keeps voluminous statistics on his players, and Boddicker's were extraordinary. As a pitcher he was 76-13 in four years (1971-75), with an ERA of 0.64. He allowed 272 hits, 155 walks and six home runs in 617 innings, while striking out 1,122. As a hitter he batted .397 in 230 games, with 34 homers, 221 RBIs and 72 stolen bases. The Montreal Expos drafted Boddicker in 1975 but didn't offer enough money, and he enrolled at Iowa.