The Boston Red Sox have retired David Ortiz’s number and I could care less. The whole concept of retiring numbers is simply something I pay no attention to.
There are certain things in baseball and the Boston Red Sox I simply have no interest in. One is on display and that is retiring of numbers as in uniform numbers.
Players often are assigned a number, but like a scar or tattoo, it is not necessarily permanent. The number originally can be closer to a hundred than one, but that is subject to rapid change when a player becomes established.
I get it with numbers since the vast number (pun intended) of fans makes the simple association – nine is Ted Williams. That even a curmudgeon such as myself has embedded in his mind. That, quite naturally, is the result of a persistent drilling and it takes hold – similar to your memorization of your social security number.
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I look at the right field pavilion at Fenway Park and it takes me awhile to decipher just whose number belongs to whom. The current crop of players I have a self-enforced road block on their numbers. I really can’t remember what number Dustin Pedroia wears, but I can easily recall volumes of minutia regarding his career. That is not usual for me and it applies to just about every Red Sox player past and present.
David Ortiz has had his number retired and that is another one that I remember. For Ortiz, as with most players, I assume this is something special and a unique honor. For the fans, it is a chance to have a final closure on a great career and a note for generations to come when his number is added to an ever-expanding list. I certainly understand the importance and significance.
Major league baseball adopted numbers briefly for just one team – the 1916 Cleveland Indians. That ended quickly. The New York Yankees started the trend in earnest in 1929 and all teams soon followed. Later names became an addition. If you want a Smoky Joe Wood Red Sox jersey you can have one, but with no number, since the great right-hander played in a numberless time, but, hey – the jersey is great.
Three teams in the NFL avoid retiring numbers. The Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and the dastardly Dallas Cowboys (Yes – I am a Giants fan). The Cowboys I have to grudgingly give respect for common sense and a unique approach to honoring players without forever placing their number on a football no assignment list. The Ring of Honor (RoH).
You enter Texas Stadium and there it is – a ring around the stadium with all the great – at least to Cowboy fans – players. Bob Lilly to Bob Hayes – they are all there to view. For baseball and just about every other sports team, the pattern is now established and it is the numbers ceremony and not a statue or a Ring of Honor.
I have no idea why I have such a baseball number aversion – none. On a personal note from my youth, I can’t recall a number that I wore. Nothing. No recollection, but it is not a “math thing” since my number skills – mathematical and recall – are excellent. I even taught math. I do remember when baseball numbers were assigned in youth leagues I would just say “Anything is fine.”
So now I will spend another half-hour attempting to recall just what number Mookie Betts my favorite Red Sox player wears?