Red Sox To Retire Wade Boggs’ No. 26, Brock Holt to No. 12
The Boston Red Sox will honor their former star by retiring Wade Boggs‘ jersey number in a ceremony, making current player Brock Holt change his number.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe stated, “A great injustice in Red Sox history was corrected this week when Red Sox chairman Tom Werner called Wade Boggs to tell him his No. 26 will be retired in a ceremony May 26 at Fenway Park.” This call means that Holt will need to change his number, which has been announced will be No. 12.
Cafardo suggests that the decision was made to bury the long-standing hatchet with Boggs because he “is also negotiating a possible role with the team, which might include being a spring training hitting coach much like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski did.”
The native of Omaha, Nebraska spent 11 seasons in Boston, earning eight All-Star appearances based on 85 home runs and 687 RBIs. His slash line with the team was an amazing .338/.428/.462, being walked 1 004 times to only 470 strikeouts. Boggs was a decent third baseman (.962 career fielding percentage), but his bat did most of the talking.
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However, Boggs was ostracized from Red Sox lore a long, long time ago in a bygone era of new hope. Boggs was supposed to be the heroic figure who could help Boston lift the Curse of the Bambino; however, instead, Boggs ended up joining the New York Yankees, the team’s arch-rival, in 1993. He earned another four All-Star appearances, but what was worse for Red Sox Nation was seeing him do something that Boston couldn’t do for decades: win a World Series championship in 1996 for the Evil Empire. Boggs lifted the trophy after hitting .273 with two RBIs in the final series that sent the Atlanta Braves home dejected.
The whole affair seemed like the team ownership was a jilted lover whom Boggs had played false. Involving the recent decision, compared to the original actions made, Cafardo suggests, “Is it coincidence that the decision to honor Boggs coincides with Larry Lucchino’s departure as team CEO and president?” Once Boggs retired, it was expected that a player who did so much for the city of Boston would be treated more like a forgiven prodigal son. Instead, Cafardo recorded the painful scorn that the Red Sox showed to Boggs:
"Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2005. He wore a Red Sox cap to boot. And the Red Sox kept ignoring him. They didn’t give out No. 21 (Roger Clemens), No. 33 (Jason Varitek), or No. 45 ([Pedro] Martinez), but they gave out Boggs’s number like candy. In addition to Holt, 12 others to wear No. 26 after Boggs left the Red Sox include Lou Merloni, Wes Chamberlain, Alejandro Pena, Lee Tinsley, Aaron Sele, Freddy Sanchez, and Ramiro Mendoza. – Nick Cafardo, The Boston Globe"
It was as if the Red Sox were trying to eliminate any chance of Boggs being honored by the team. If any of these players had even better success than Boggs did, they would make it impossible for the future managers of the team to retire the number with Boggs’ name attached to it.
Unfortunately for anyone who wanted that alleged plan to work, it didn’t. Now, Boggs gets a Christmas present that will last forever in the cathedral of Boston.
What does this mean for this new generation of Red Sox Nation?
The jersey ceremony is more of a token of what really seems to be the heart of the matter, that of Boggs working with the new ownership structure. Say, perhaps, the spring training coaching job could turn into something more. It’s not like the Red Sox couldn’t score runs, but they couldn’t often hit when it mattered most. Boston was 15th in 2015 for batting average in the seventh inning or after (.244). In late or close games, shortstop Xander Bogaerts led the team with a .354 batting average in 65 at-bats, a young man who was not in the plans to lead anyone at the plate the year before, except to misery. The team had only four starters hitting above .280, with Dustin Pedroia, and Holt cancelling each other out since Holt played for Pedroia for much of the season.
When rookie catcher Blake Swihart (.274) is hitting better than big names like David Ortiz (.273), Hanley Ramirez (.249), and Pablo Sandoval (.245), maybe the team is in need of a change in culture.
Perhaps a change in eras is needed. So far, the Red Sox have had Greg Colbrunn, Tim Hyers, Colbrunn again, and Chili Davis take turns being the full-time hitting coach, with very mixed results. The kids are hitting better, but the veterans are sliding down into incompetency. Colbrunn hit a career average of .289, Hyers hit .217, and Davis hit .274.
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At least Davis was a three-time All-Star, but Boggs’ pedigree is something else entirely. Instead of Boggs being a spring training coach and giving him a jersey ceremony, why don’t the Red Sox plead with him to be their new hitting coach for the foreseeable future. Maybe the spring training gig is Boggs’ job interview. If he shows to have a rapport with the players and April proves to show improvement for the aging veterans with huge contracts, maybe it’s a sign that Boggs’ legacy with the Red Sox will finally lead to a World Series championship that he seemed destined to provide years before.
That’s if Boggs still wants to be that man for the Red Sox. Maybe the praise is really nice but also too late for him.