So Wade Boggs has been clamoring for the Red Sox to retire his number 26, and justifiably so. Boggs was THE Red Sox of the 80’s. With five batting titles credited to his name, national recognition as one of the best pure hitters in baseball’s long and illustrious history, and innummerable dents on the Green Monster as his plaudits, Boggs influenced a generation of young baseball fans to pick up their bats and balls and start playing our nation’s pastime. I should know. I was one of them. Yes, dear reader, even as a card carrying member of the “Yankees Universe” (I hate that fucking term from the Yankees….”Let’s see, what is greater than Red Sox Nation? Oh, a UNIVERSE. Woof.), Boggs was one of my favorite players as a child. He and Don Mattingly. I used to imitate the swings of those two greats, tried to imitate everything about them. My mother knew this. My parents bought me this book “authored” by Boggs outlining his hitting techniques, but fuck that, that was not the big item a young 9 year old would necessarily glean from that book. At least not this 9 year old. No, what the book included was Boggs’ bizarre pregame rituals. Among them was that before each game, Boggs would eat some Chicken with Lemon. The recipe was included in the book, and my mother, God bless her soul, would cook that recipe for me before every little league game I played.
All childhood anecdotes aside, the bigger question I have for you, brethren, is this: Who should have their uniform numbers retired by the Red Sox? It seems odd to me, especially as a Yankee fan, that with the long, rich, and textured history the former Red Stockings have that only seven Sox players have their numbers retired by the club. (I know Jackie Robinson’s 42 is up there, but he only had a tryout with the club. That is another story for another day. Maybe tomorrow.) Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, all worthy members. Some more or less than others. However, there are some numbers that should be honored at Fenway that haven’t, and these numbers just go to show how hypocritical and backwards the organization has been from time to time. The criteria, according to the Red Sox website, for having your number retired is that you played ten seasons and ended your career with the Sox. Already, that criteria is fucked: Carlton Fisk didn’t end his career with the Sox. Neither did Bobby Doerr. It just goes to show what a farce this whole process is. With all this in mind, lets get to the guys whose numbers should be honored with the rest of the Sox all time greats.
Quick aside: Pedro Martinez #45. Pedro didn’t last ten years with the Sox, and certainly didn’t end his career there. But do you think for a minute that 45 isn’t going to be retired, and SOON? Yeah, neither did I.
Dwight Evans, #24: Dewey played over 20 seasons for the Sox, and was the heart and soul of the team throughout the eighties. He also happened to be one of the best defensive right fielders EVER, with a GREAT, accurate throwing arm. You did not run on Dwight Evans. The knock on him early in his career was,well, he couldn’t hit for shit. That changed in the early 80’s. It could be argued that Dewey was the best Right Fielder of that decade, something that I argue all the time. I personally think Dwight Evans warrants inclusion into the BASEBALL Hall of Fame, not just to have his number retired by the Sox. I hated that a guy like Manny Ramirez, a steroid hack with no respect for the game, will probably be remembered more for wearing that number, but no one rocked it with style and grace quite like Dwight Evans. Retire the number.
JImmie Foxx, #3: JImmie Foxx played 7 years for the Sox, so I guess he doesn’t meet the criteria. Did I mention during those seven seasons he put up a .320/.429/.605 line, averaging 32HR and 113 RBI’s a season? That Foxx was known as the right handed Babe Ruth, and formed with Ted Williams perhaps the greatest 3-4 lineup combo in the history of the game? But, shit, why would the Sox retire THAT guy’s number?
Wade Boggs #26: I know a lot of Sox fans are still bitter about Wade hitting .257 and then defecting to the Yankees following the 1992 season. GET. OVER. IT. Wade would have gladly remained a Red Sox if management wasn’t pushing him out of town. Same with Roger Clemens. Fact is, at the time those two were let go of, the ownership was beyond diseased and decayed, and fans were almost as diseased and decayed after years upon years of near misses and general malaise. The Red Sox trotted out Bill Buckner on opening day in 2008 and Sox fans seemingly forgave him. What did he do for the Sox? Sure, he had a few good years, but compared to Boggs? In 11 seasons with the Sox, Boggs compiled a .338 (!) batting average with almost 2100 hits. Some labeled him moody and odd and only motivated by his statistics. Hogwash. Ever seen the footage of Boggs following Game 7 of the 1986 World Series? Guy was bawling his eyes out. The fact of the matter is this: Did Boggs care about his individual stats? Yes. And why not? If you are a .340 hitter over a long haul, you are getting paid, even without a ring. If you are a .249 hitter with eight rings? Guess what, you are not getting paid nearly as much as that first guy hitting .340. In fact, that .249 hitter will labor just to get a minimum wage deal every spring. Wade Boggs, for all his foibles, should have his number retired by the Sox.
Tony Conigliaro, #25: Tony C. is one of those tragedy figures who gets his number retired by any other team, especially his hometown team. Not this hometown team. You want my full thoughts on this one? Here is the full article, which I regard as the best piece of writing I have ever done, written about six months ago: https://marianosaves.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/a-ballad-for-tony-c/