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One of the highest honors a player can achieve after retirement is having his number retired by his former team. Being inducted into Cooperstown will always be the apex of a career well played, but a retired number can be just as special.
It’s a distinct honor to forever have your jersey number taken out of circulation. It’s a special privilege to have an eternal link to one specific team and have the memory of your playing days be forever imbedded on the walls of the stadium you once called home.
And much like Cooperstown, the player in question needs to deserve it. He needs to have left his mark, through statistics and hard work. The difference, of course, is you don’t need to be a Hall of Gamer to have your number retired. All you have to do was be great for that particular team.
Just take a look at the Houston Astros. They have several retired numbers, many of whom will never, ever be in Cooperstown. But they were still worth remembering and honoring. That’s what it’s all about, really, the preservation of memory and history. Baseball is nothing without its history.
Wade Boggs is the only current Cooperstown inductee to not have his number retired by a team. The Tampa native has been very vocal over the years about his exclusion on Fenway’s right field deck. Even though I appreciate his passion and agree that his number should be retired, he needs to stop whining. It just looks bad. You don’t want to have your number retired because you campaigned for it of cried over it. That’s never the way to go. There are a few people around town who are still pretty upset with Mr. Boggs and this type of behavior certainly won’t earn him any points.
In my opinion he’s already earned the honor, but it’s the Sox management who won’t pull the trigger. The Sox have this ridiculously archaic system put into place where a player can only have his number retired if he played for Boston a minimum of ten years, retired with the team and is a member of the Hall of Fame.
First of all, there is no reason to have any rules that are this strict, especially when Carlton Fisk and Johnny Pesky both have numbers retired. Do they deserve to have their numbers retired? Yes, of course they do. And that’s my point.
Retiring a number should come down to whether of not the player deserves the honor. Not whether or not the player deserves the honor and fits this moronic criterion. These rules have left out Dwight Evans and will ultimately leave out Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek. When a team retires a number, it’s supposed to be about team history, not the player’s overall contribution to MLB. Cooperstown should have nothing to do with it.
The second issue I have with these rules is that the management who put these in place has absolutely nothing to do with the Boston Red Sox and hasn’t had anything to do with the team for years. These rules were established by John Harrington, the man who decided to not give Boggs a long-term deal back in 1992.
I just think it’s strange that they still adhere to these requirements. I think this ownership just doesn’t see this as an important issue. I’m sure they would retire more numbers if they could also include an advertiser on them. That seems to be the only thing that gets any recognition at Fenway now-a-days. It’s an absolute shame that Wake day and Tek day or whatever the hell they called them, didn’t end with the unveiling of a retired number. There is no franchise in the bigs that would do that for a couple of players who’ve done so much for the team. First things first, get rid of these rules.
Boggs is an all-time Red Sox great. I know he played for the Yankees and if that bothers you, then grow up. It’s not that big a deal anymore anyway. Boggs was a much better Red Sox than he was a Yankee (or Ray) anyway. The man had the best years of his career in a Boston uniform. He’s had an incredibly decorated career.
He won five batting titles, all with the Red Sox, and finished his Sox career with a .338 batting average. Between 1982 and 1988, he hit below .349 only once. From 1983 to 1989 he had seven consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits, which at the time was a record. Well over 2,000 of his 3,010 hits and eight of his twelve All-Star appearances came in a Red Sox uniform. All of these numbers add up to equal No. 26 being retired in right field.
He was never the same player in any of his other uniforms and he deserves to be remembered as a Red Sox. He was an elite player in this city and all of his career highlights (with the exception of his World Series ring and 3,000 hit) coincide with being a member of the Boston Red Sox.
As far as I’m concerned, number 26 should have been hanging in right field a long time ago.