The Origin Of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Wade Boggs Episode

Almost no one can put away drinks like the debaucherous gang from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," but legendary baseball player Wade Boggs would give them a run for their money. In the season 10 premiere, the dive bar owners hop on a cross-country flight to tackle Boggs' record of 70 beers in transit. The actual number is disputed — Boggs himself claims it's even higher than legend would have us believe — but the episode's premise remains hilarious.

"[Boggs] was famous for baseball, he was also famous for the amount of beer he could drink," series co-creator and star Charlie Day explained to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show when the episode first aired. "Supposedly, when they would have these cross-country flights, he would drink on average 40 to 50, some say 70 beers. So our characters are trying to break that record in the episode ... and then see if we can hit a baseball the next day, cuz not only would he drink 70 beers, but then he'd go, like three for four."

Day's co-star and co-creator Glenn Howerton doesn't remember exactly who thought that Boggs' triumph would make a great story, but he knows that the story inspired what Vice and many fans would agree was a stand-out episode among all 15 seasons (and counting). "I think somebody was talking about the legend of Wade Boggs and how he drank 126 beers on a cross-country flight, and we realized it would be a great episode to try and break that record," Howerton told Vice in 2019.

You may have already noticed a discrepancy in the number of beers that Boggs reportedly drank. As it turns out, Day and Howerton both had it wrong.

Some say his record is 70 beers, but Boggs told Day the real number

Wade Boggs himself makes a cameo in "The Gang Beats Boggs" as a hallucination that motivates Charlie to win the competition. When the baseball legend was on set, Charlie Day finally got the true record straight from the boozehound's mouth. "Well, he told me that the actual number," Day revealed to Jimmy Fallon. "He pulled me aside and he was like, 'Charlie, really it was 107.'"

Much to the dismay of Aussies everywhere, Boggs' record puts to shame the legend of the 52-beer-flight set by Australian baseball player David Boon, per Fox Sports Australia.

It might seem like an impossible number, but luckily for us, Boggs also walked Day through the logistics. As it turned out, not all 107 beers were consumed on the plane. "So he would come to the airport about 12 deep," Day explained, "and then he'd be on the plane just firing 'em back, and then they'd have the layover, then they get there, and then they would go out that night."

It would be silly for Boggs to appear on the show without a beer in hand, so he and Charlie crack open a cold one together. Union rules forbid alcohol on-set but, according to Day, it might not have been water that Boggs was knocking back.

"He was great, although I'm pretty sure he was drinking actual beer when we were filming," Day told Fallon. "Because we all had prop beer, but I noticed at one point, he's drinking now."

Howerton explains the writing process

"The Gang Beats Boggs" was a huge creative breakthrough for Glenn Howerton who, by season 10 of the series, was finding it increasingly difficult to think up episode ideas that felt unique and exciting. "This episode is just so funny to me," he told Vice. "It always makes me laugh. We were deep into the series at that point — I think it was season 10 — and this episode felt fresh. It felt new."

For Howerton, the best stories are about the journey, not the destination. Half of the gang doesn't even make it to Los Angeles, and only Mac and Charlie manage to leave the airport. Once Charlie proves that he can hit a baseball, thereby successfully besting Boggs' record, he and Mac head directly back to Philly. "Interestingly enough, [this is] another episode where we're just trying to get from here to there," Howerton added. "It's all the s*** in between that's so interesting and fascinating to me."

Howerton, Charlie Day, and co-creator Rob McElhenney write a lot of the show themselves, but this episode was written by their long-time collaborators Dave and John Chernin, who also co-created the briefly lived comedy series "The Mick" starring "It's Always Sunny" alum Kaitlin Olson. Howerton broke down the show's writing process for clarity:

"We break the stories as a writers' room, and then writers get assigned episodes or we go off and write it. Then the very final part of the process is that me, Rob, and Charlie punch up and rewrite the whole thing. Some require very little rewriting and some require a lot, and I don't remember where that one was. But I know Dave and John are f***ing brilliant, so my guess is we didn't rewrite that one all that much."

How the gang got Boggs on board

Charlie Day said that the "It's Always Sunny" creators were tentative to reach out to Wade Boggs because they were unsure if he would like the episode premise and, if he didn't, they would have to scrap it entirely. "We reached out to him like, 'Is he going to be okay with this?'" the "Horrible Bosses" star recounted on The Tonight Show. "And he was like, 'I'll do it.'"

Glenn Howerton "doesn't remember exactly" how they got the ball player on board, but it probably had something to do with Rob McElhenney. "What usually happens is that Rob reaches out to these people, because he's just the most persuasive of us," he admitted to Vice. "He's just a good salesman."

Boggs' family may have also played a part in convincing him to make a cameo. "It's Always Sunny" appeals mostly to a younger audience, which means that while older celebrities may not have heard of the series, they often have children in the target demographic.

"A lot of times, when something like that goes through it's because, like, Wade Boggs' kids were fans of the show," Howerton explained. "I feel like that's how it's been a lot for us. We can never get the person — but it's always their kid who's like, 'Dad, you have to do this.'"

Whether it was McElhenney or a younger Boggs relative that persuaded the baseball player to participate,"It's Always Sunny" fans, baseball fans, and beer enthusiasts alike are forever indebted to them. It might not be as exciting as drinking 107 beers on an airplane in real life, but it sure is fun to watch.