For decades, the Boston Red Sox had the bar set very high when it came to retiring the numbers of legendary players. Under the Yawkey ownership, a player had to meet two very important requirements: 1. Be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame 2. Play ten seasons for the organization.
Since the current ownership took over the club, two more numbers have since been retired. Jim Rice’s number 14 was retired after a long overdue enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Rice played his entire 16 season career in Boston, and would’ve also been a lock to have his number retired by the old regime’s standards.
But the new ownership group has taken a somewhat lenient stance when it comes to retiring numbers. In 2008 they retired the number of Johnny Pesky (6). Pesky isn’t in the Hall of Fame, nor did he play ten or more seasons for the club (He debuted in 1941 and was traded after 1951. However he did miss three seasons due to military service in World War II). Pesky’s number was retired for his decades of service to the club, and Major League Baseball in general. It was a very well-deserved honor.
Pedro Martinez was only in Boston for seven seasons. But his number 45 has not been worn since his departure and is a lock to be retired at this point next season when he’s elected to the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens departed Boston after 1996 and his number 21 has not been worn since. If he’s ever elected to the Hall of Fame, it’s a lock to be retired (in fact, I’m still kind of surprised they just didn’t go ahead and retire it on Thursday night).
All of the aforementioned players are very deserving of the prestigious honor of having their numbers retired. However, I’m still puzzled that one player has yet to have his number retired. In fact, it’s been handed out to several players since he departed Boston after 1992 (currently being worn by Brock Holt). The player I’m referring to is Wade Boggs.
Boggs played 11 seasons in Boston and won each of his five batting titles there. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame back in 2005 and went in wearing a Red Sox cap. Even under the standards of the old ownership, Boggs’ number 26 should be retired.
It’s really puzzling that the current ownership didn’t retire the number back in 2005, even more so given the type of hitter Boggs was exactly the type of hitter they prefer to have in the lineup (count bleeders who put up high OBPs).
Of course it takes some work on both sides to make progress. It seems unlikely the ownership would have left him off the invite list for the Fenway 100th annivesary celebration two years ago. It’s hard to remember the last time Boggs was seen at Fenway in his post-playing days.
Boggs has expressed the desire to have his number retired. Much has been written over the years about his forgettable exit from Boston and tenure in pinstripes at a time when the vendetta between the two clubs wasn’t all that high.
If you contrast Boggs’ post-Boston playing career to that of Roger Clemens, doesn’t it seem surprising the latter was greeted with a very nice ovation Thursday night?
Long story short: It would be nice if at some point in the not-too-distant future, Boggs and the current ownership establish some type of relationship and get number 26 in it’s rightful spot on the right field facade. It’s just not right that a guy who’s met the criteria is being left out for rather asinine reasons, if any reason at all.