Which Boston Red Sox great should have their number retired next?

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 1990: Dwight Evans #24 of the Boston Red Sox batting during a MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13, 1990 in Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 1990: Dwight Evans #24 of the Boston Red Sox batting during a MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13, 1990 in Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox currently have nine players’ numbers retired. Recently, there has been plenty of debate on social media as to who should be next.

As one of baseball’s most historic and storied franchise’s, there were always going to be a ton of numbers potentially ending up on the right field stand at Fenway Park. For clubs like the Boston Red Sox, numbers become a problem as there have been so many great players but there are only so many numbers.

That doesn’t, however, stop the debates. The Sox currently have nine numbers retired, all undoubtedly worthy of their places. Also, Jackie Robinson‘s No. 42 is among them since 1997, when every team in the majors did the same. Who could be the next Sox legend to receive the honor?

With quarantine well and truly underway for everyone across the globe, many people are looking for things to do. Sporting debates are an obvious choice when it comes to social media and connecting with other sport lovers who are missing sports as much as you are. The recent debate that caught my eye came last night. Red Sox beat writer, Ian Browne, tweeted out a poll asking fans who should be the next player to have their number retired by the ballclub. The results were fascinating and spark a very intriguing debate.

With over 4,000 votes as of now, Dwight Evans leads the way with 34.2% of the votes. Roger Clemens is in second with 26.2%, followed closely by Dustin Pedroia with 25.3%, and in last place is Luis Tiant with 14.3%.

With twitter, the obvious thing to point out would be the age thing. Most active twitter users are the younger generations and you’d think this would probably result in Pedroia receiving a ton more votes. But, with Dewey leading the pack, I think it’s fair to say no matter what age groups voted on this matter, that Red Sox fans definitely value their past players just as much as the current ones.

These four names have all done special things in Boston and you could make a clear argument as to why any one of them should have their numbers retired. When it’s all said and done it wouldn’t be surprising if all four were hanging on the right field facade at Fenway. But, that wasn’t the question that Browne was putting out there.

A couple of people suggested that the chronological retirement of numbers might be the best way to go about things. That would mean Evans first followed by his former teammate Tiant, then Clemens then Pedroia.

However, you’ve got to think about more factors than that. For me, Pedroia deserves to have his number retired by the Red Sox one day. The beloved second baseman has been with Boston since 2006. He was such a big piece of the puzzle in 2007 that brought another World Series title to Boston. He then became the ninth player in franchise history to win the AL MVP in 2008, hitting .326 and leading the majors in runs, hits and doubles.

Although Pedey has missed basically all of the past two seasons, his work behind the scenes, his leadership and guidance to younger players and his presence in the Red Sox bullpen continue to make him one of the most important players this franchise has. Pedey’s career batting average is .299 and his OPS, .805. He’s had some career in Boston and his jersey retirement would be the perfect ending.

However, as he hasn’t even retired yet, I don’t think now would be the time to do it, especially when you have the likes of Evans and Tiant awaiting their turn.

As well as those two legendary Sox players, you have Clemens. The Rocket is an interesting one. Undoubtedly one of the greatest ever pitchers the game has seen, the hard throwing righty spent thirteen seasons with the Red Sox. In Boston, he picked up five All-Star appearances, three Cy Young awards, and he the league MVP in 1986.

Now, with Clemens, there’s always the talk of steroids – a lot of these acquisitions based on his pitching following his departure from Boston. Clemens was acquitted of the charges against him saying that he had lied about steroid use back in 2012. But, the fact of the matter is that nobody truly knows what went down during the latter parts of his career.

With Boston, there was no doubt about Clemens’ abilities, as he led the league the league in ERA four times, ERA+ five times and strikeouts three times. He was as dominant as they come really.

The fact that he played for the Yankees obviously brings more objective opinions out of Sox fans on this one, but in the end he’d accomplished pretty much everything a pitcher could expect for the big one. After playing two seasons in Toronto following his departure from Boston, Clemens forced a trade away and ended up with the Yankees. He won two World Series in his first two years in the Bronx – which would’ve sickened any Sox fan to their stomachs at the time, especially as the drought was still ongoing.

The fact that he had over 26% of the votes on that poll definitely shows that there is some love for him in Boston, unless Yankee fans hijacked the poll. He shouldn’t be next up, but there’s a case for him.

For me, the next slot comes between Evans and Tiant. Dewey spending nineteen of his twenty year career in Boston and Luis giving eight fabulous pitching seasons to the Red Sox. Without a doubt, No. 24 and No. 23 should be in right field at Fenway and immortalized in franchise history. It’s just a question as to who should be first.

Both Red Sox Hall of Famers, had incredible major league careers. Tiant ended his career in 1982 with 2,416 strikeouts, 187 complete games – 49 shutouts. In Boston, Tiant received two of his three All-Star appearances, pitched three of his four 20 win seasons and remained undefeated in the postseason, winning three games in the infamous 1975.

Although Tiant fell short of making the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was a shoe-in for the Red Sox’s. For a franchise who have had so many elite pitchers, being up among them tells you all you need to know in itself. Tiant is a Sox legend and he should get this honor. For me he should be second in line.

The only person above Tiant is his former teammate of seven years. Another fan favorite, Dewey, only moved on from Boston in 1990. He was 39-years-old at the time and enjoyed his final season in Baltimore. The nineteen years prior to that were nothing short of extraordinary for Evans.

Although, like many Red Sox greats, he never won a championship, this does little to knock the effects Evans had on the majors and how much of an excellent player he was. Evans made up that astonishing outfield trio of Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and himself, making Fenway a fortress for any visiting team.

Dewey’s ability to hit and play astonishing defense makes him a lock to have his number retired. It’s actually very surprising how they haven’t done it yet and have recycled No. 24 like it was nothing. Manny Ramirez, who probably has a shot himself, wore Dewey’s number for eight seasons. But, No. 24 will always be Dwight Evans for most Red Sox fans, the man who won ten Gold Glove awards out in that right field at Fenway where the numbers sit retired, waiting for his to join them. His patrol out there developed a .986 fielding percentage – something to note for a career as long as he had.

Over the course of Dewey’s 20-year career, no other player reached base more than he did. He reached on 3,890 occasions, also ranking second among major league players in that time period for home runs (385), wRC (1.640), extra base hits (941) and runs (1,470), and ranking third for runs batted in (1,384) and doubles (483).

Evans is certainly among an elite group when it comes to ranking all-time Red Sox players. His longevity, ability both offensively and defensively makes him the number one candidate to be next in line for one of the biggest honors in baseball.

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Browne’s poll results seem to agree and if you ask any Red Sox fan who was around for Dewey’s prime they’ll let you know that it’s not really a tough decision at all. Even, for me, a fan who was years out of being born when Evans retired, knows his effect on the game of baseball and the Red Sox as a ball club.