Chicken is a big hit with baseball's Wade Boggs

When baseball player Wade Boggs hears someone yell ``fowl'' he runs for home plate. His own home, to be exact, and a plate of chicken.

Mr. Boggs, who spends the warm months of the year guarding the foul line for the Boston Red Sox, is usually rather taciturn. But when it comes to talking turkey, er, chicken, he just crows.

``It started in '77. I had a minor league budget and a growing family to feed,'' says the third baseman. ``Chicken was cheap and I really felt better eating lighter food rather than a lot of heavy meat and gravy. Then I noticed my batting average going up. Ever since I've been a `chicketarian.' ''

Cute, Boggs.

``No, I'm serious. In fact from spring training until now, the only real meat I've eaten was three pork chops -- at one meal at my mother's,'' he explains.

East Coast chicken marketer Frank Perdue has recently taken Boggs under his wing. ``Perdue called me and said, `You've done more for the chicken industry [than anything] since we found out they don't have much fat. If there's anything I can do for you just let me know.' ''

Faster than Boggs could say cock-a-doodle-doo, a six-month supply of Perdue's chicken landed on his doorstep.

``Problem was,'' said Boggs, ``a six-month supply for most families wasn't enough for us. It only took us a month to eat those chickens. I eat one and a half a day, my wife Debbie and daughter Meagann eat another half between them.'' Nike, their Persian cat, gets the scraps -- if there are any.

That got teammate Bob Stanley to thinking -- ``I think I'll start eating nothing but filet mignon,'' he told Boggs, ``Maybe someone will start sending me unlimited steaks.''

When it comes to cooking chicken, Boggs doesn't. ``I leave that to the women. They cook it, I eat it. My wife's a great cook, except she can't make Southern Fried. Only my mom can cook that. Nobody fries chicken like Mom.''

Only once did a chicken dish ruffle Boggs's feathers. ``I got this meal in the Virgin Islands. It was chicken with plum sauce and almonds, or something. Guess that's one you have to get used to.''

When a friend suggested a book of recipes the idea hatched ``Fowl Tips'' (Narragansett Graphics Inc., $8.95). It's a compilation of recipes mostly from his mother, grandmother, and wife, with sketches by his dad. After eating a dish of Lemon Chicken, Boggs got the most hits in a double-header in his career. Lemon Chicken 2 to 3 pounds chicken, cut in serving pieces Garlic salt, to taste 1/4 pound butter 1 1/2 to 2 cups lemon juice 2 teaspoons dry mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with garlic salt on all sides. Place in shallow baking dish.

Melt butter in sauce pan. Mix dry mustard and lemon juice into melted butter.

Pour mixture over chicken and bake for 1 hour, basting often. Mom's Southern Fried Chicken 2 to 3 pounds chicken, cut up 1 cup flour 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 cup cooking oil

Place flour, salt, and pepper in bag. Shake mixture to blend.

Place chicken in bag and shake until well coated.

Heat oil in large frying pan with lid. Place chicken in pan, turn heat to medium high, then cover pan with lid.

Cook about 30 minutes until chicken is crisp and brown, turning often.

When fork can be easily inserted in chicken, remove from pan and drain. Mandarin Orange Chicken 4 chicken breasts 1 cup rice, uncooked 2 cups orange juice 1 can Mandarin orange slices, drained Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse, pat dry, and lightly salt chicken breasts.

Place rice on bottom of medium-size baking dish. Place chicken on rice.

Pour orange juice over chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with orange slices.

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