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With a Hall of Fame induction coming this Sunday, Jim Rice will soon be embedded in Red Sox history by having his number retired.
Rice’s No. 14 will be the seventh Red Sox number retired and eighth overall, following the league-wide retiring of Jackie Robinson’s No. 42. His number will be placed on the Fenway Walls alongside Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Johnny Pesky (6), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9) and Carlton Fisk (27).
Rice is third in Red Sox history in hits, home runs, and RBI behind both Yaz and Williams respectfully. He will now join his fellow leftfielders in two highly selective groups, starting with Cooperstown and then in Boston. They are both just reminders of the impact Rice has had on not just the Red Sox, but in the game of baseball himself.
Over his entire 15-year career with the Red Sox, Rice earned eight All-Star game selections and was the AL MVP in 1978. He was not available for the Sox during their 1975 World Series run, which they eventually lost to the Cincinnati Reds. He was, however, part of the 1986 Red Sox team that made another push. He hit a home run in game seven of the ALCS against the Angles and was one out away from a World Series victory against the Mets. Everyone knows how that one turned out.
His MVP season was the best of his entire career. In 1978, he blasted 46 home runs, drove in 139 runs, and even had 15 triples. Former teammate Dennis Eckersley said, “it was the best year I’ve seen offensively.”
Along with Fred Lynn, he was part of the Gold Dust Twins. The two were a powerhouse duo that helped the Sox make the push for the ‘75 pennant. For all the highs, there were lows. Despite being the ’78 MVP, Rice was part of the one-game playoff against the Yankees that saw a Bucky Dent home run ruin everything.
Just as long as his career, Rice had to wait 15 more years, and in his final year of eligibility, he received 76 percent approval to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. To be inducted, a member needs to receive 75 percent from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He will join Ricky Henderson this Sunday to have his plaque placed in the halls with the game’s greats.
To have his number retired by the Red Sox was another long journey. The Red Sox organization has two criteria: first, the player needs to be elected into the Hall of Fame, and second, the player has to have played at least ten years in a Boston uniform. For Rice, it was clear the Sox weren’t going to wait long and this coming Tuesday against the Athletics, Rice will be remembered as one of Boston’s best.
He deserves the awards. He was a consummate professional and someone who let his play speak for him. In a time where players like Reggie Jackson were flashy and loud, Rice was a silent slugger and one of the brightest stars of the 70’s.
“You just cherish what you have,” Rice said about his induction. “You cherish that you’re in the Hall of Fame. You cherish that you’re in an elite category of guys that have played the game and have played the game one way: hard.”
For Rice, it was a long time coming and he’s a player that will forever be remembered by Red Sox Nation.