Boddicker also led the Cedar Rapids American Legion team to three regional titles and into three Legion World Series, in 1974, '75 and '76. His coach at the time was Ken Charipar, who later became his father-in-law. In Norway, baseball is the tie that binds whole families.
As a freshman at Iowa, Boddicker made All-Big Ten as a third baseman, but after his sophomore year he decided to concentrate on pitching. A year later he began seeing Lisa. "It's funny the way they started dating," says Ken. "I ran into Mike at a game in Norway, and he asked me how Lisa was, and I said she'd just got finished with the dentist and wasn't feeling too well. That night he went and visited her, and pretty soon they were going out." Lisa, who at 5'9" is nearly as tall as Mike, was quite a basketball player her self in high school. "She outplays me all the time," says Mike.
After his 1978 junior season at Iowa, Mike signed with the Orioles and progressed from college to Triple-A ball in just 15 weeks. He made it to Baltimore the first time in September 1980, but that trip, and two more in '81 and '82, ended with a return ticket to Rochester.
The first time Boddicker was called up, he and his new bride just appeared on Shapiro's doorstep, and the agent took them in. An Oriole player had recommended Shapiro to Boddicker in spring training and the two families became fast friends. "Even though Mike hadn't batted in a game in more than a year, I knew he would hit well in the Series, because I've seen him hit in the batting cage behind my house," says Shapiro. "But he does so many things well. We once had a mouse problem in the house, and I told Mike about it. The next thing I know, he's caught the mice and he's showing them to me."
There are advantages and disadvantages to being a pitcher, especially a non-power one like Boddicker, in the Baltimore organization. On the one hand, few teams can teach or appreciate a pitcher whose forte is changing speeds with control as well as the Orioles. On the other hand, they have so many good pitchers, somebody has to be left behind. After a while Boddicker became tired of being that somebody.
His impatience came to a head in the spring of '82 after he and then-Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver disagreed about his role. "I became really frustrated," Boddicker says. "I finally went to Mr. Peters [Hank Peters, the Oriole general manager, whom Boddicker holds in high regard] and asked him to trade me if Baltimore didn't want to use me. He told me to wait, that the Orioles would need me soon, although he added, 'If you really want a trade, we'll try to help you.' " After spending most of '82 in Rochester, Boddicker pitched in seven games for Baltimore at the end of the year, and even though he was sent down at the end of '83 spring training, he continued to be confident.
The call for Boddicker came on May 5, after Jim Palmer was disabled, and 12 days later, in the second game of a double-header, he shut out the White Sox, the same team he would stifle in the playoffs. Boddicker remained in the rotation because, coincidentally, in the first game of that same doubleheader Mike Flanagan had hurt his knee.
Properly schooled in the Orioles' precepts of changing speeds and throwing strikes, Boddicker soon established himself as a formidable pitcher. One of his deliveries is the foshball, a combination forkball and "fish," the Orioles' slang for change-up. "What really helped me," says Boddicker, "is that I seemed to follow Scott McGregor in the rotation for most of the season. Just from charting his pitches in every start, I learned a lot."
The postseason showed just how much—and an important part of Norway was there to enjoy it. After the playoffs, an RV left Norway bound for Baltimore. In it were the Van Scoyocs, Karen, Butch and Bob, and Lisa's parents. "I'm thinking, now don't embarrass us, Michael," says Sheryl, "and he's probably thinking that this is like pitching against Amana High."
Boddicker is a natural in many things. For the previous few winters he had worked for $4.50 an hour at Pollock's grain elevators, doing a variety of jobs. He would be there again this winter if he had the time. Boddicker is no country bumpkin, but then, nobody else in Norway is, either. He's quickly becoming an accomplished banquet speaker, although he'd much rather be out in the fields with his chocolate Labrador puppy, Hershey (a gift from a Baltimore physician), or playing with his 8-month-old son, Corey.