I just wanted to take a moment and congratulate one of the greatest players that I’ve ever seen play in a Boston Red Sox uniform. Who is it? It’s none other than Jim Rice. And I have to say it’s about time that the club and Major League Baseball is recognizing him. It was just announced a few weeks back than Rice has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Which in my eyes has been long overdue. The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place in Cooperstown, N.Y. on the weekend of July 26th this year. And to top that news, the team has announced that during the summer they will be retiring good old #14 once and for all. In my opinion both honors should of come long ago. But it’s better late than never, just like the old saying goes.
I remember as a kid growing up in Boston and watching the Sox, I loved it every time that Rice was walking to the plate. Ready to take a swing and drive one deep left over the famous Green Monster. Or lining a shot off the wall in deep center field near the famous triangle. To me he played the game the was it was intended to be played, with passion and love.
He wasn’t worried about making the money or getting the big time player endorsements. Unlike the majority of the games players today. He went out there and played no matter what the score was. Or what time of the year it was. It didn’t matter to him if the Sox were 10 games out of first and it was the final game of the season.
He played each and every pitch like it would be his last. And that’s what he did for his entire fifteen year career in the majors. Seeing Rice in a Sox uniform for his entire career was a great thrill for me. He actually came into the majors back in the summer of 1974, which was only a few months before I was born. So I never had a chance to see his early years, when he played along side Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans, otherwise known as “Dewey”.
Now that must of been something to be amazed at, seeing those three in the same outfield. But before he playing days ended I had my share of memories of Jim Rice. Since I was just about fifteen when he called it quits back in 1989. And I’d like to share just one memory of him that will always and forever stay with me.
It was back in June of 1982 and in the stands watching the game was a young fan named Jonathan Keane who was four at the time. At the plate was Sox infielder Dave Stapleton, and I remember seeing Stapleton line a foul play straight into the stands. Which is nothing new or spectacular but it’s what happens next that makes it spectacular. The ball struck someone in the head.
That someone was four year old Jonathan! Within seconds I witnessed something that I know I’ll never see again in today’s era of baseball. Rice comes running across the field and leaps into the stands and scoops up the bleeding boy. He then carries the child directly into the club’s medical offices so the child could receive treatment. What multi-million dollar player would ever do that in today’s era?
I remember seeing pictures on the news and in the papers showing what Rice did that day. And I will always smile and say that’s the day Jim Rice became my favorite Sox player of all-time. So coming this summer it’ll be an honor to see him inducted into the HOF and have his #14 retired by the Sox.
For all the wonderful years of service and the memories you gave not only myself but all the fans of the Boston Red Sox. Those memories and what you still bring to the sports, team and our fans is the reason you’ll always be number one in my book. Thank You!