Red Sox Retired Jerseys

Over the weekend a statue of Yaz went up. It was great, if not overdue. Then again, the Red Sox are a little too strict when it comes to celebrating its past, no?

Listen, I like Brock Holt. You like Brock Holt. We all like Brock Holt because we get that (a) he is a Quadruple-A player who can cover an injury for a couple weeks at the big league level, (b) we do not expect that he is going to be a starter, so anything he contributes is a bonus, and (c) his name reminds us of Arrested Development, which is awesome because Arrested Development is awesome. We all like Brock Holt (\O/).

But, as much as we all like Brock Holt, we have to admit that it is a little weird to see him filling in at 3b for Will Middlebrooks all while sporting the number 26 jersey.

A man wearing the number 26, manning the hot corner? It seems like deja vu. Because. It. Is. We were there. Hall of Famer Wade Boggs wore number 26 for the Red Sox. Wade Boggs dominated the 1980′s in Boston, got to 3,000 hits, was elected on his first ballot to
the Hall of Fame, was a Sabermetric all-star before you knew who Bill James was, and has a Red Sox hat on his Hall of Fame plaque.

So why is his number not retired?

Oh, yeah, that is why. That’s not petty or anything. It’s not like Boston has had two parades since then in order to wash away that memory or anything. But the Red Sox are not particularly good about honoring their history. For example, it took until, oh, I don’t know, last Sunday in order to put up a statue of Carl Yastrzemski.

But, the Red Sox are sort of slow at honoring the past. Look at the retired numbers (that you admittedly know by heart). Does it not seem a little light?

The Red Sox are notoriously light at retiring numbers. In fact, they have specific requirements to qualify: The player/manager must (a) spend a decade in Boston and (b) be elected to the Hall of Fame. This is, of course, disqualifies Pedro Martinez (1998-2004).

Now, the Red Sox do not have the history that the Yankees have (ducks like George W. Bush with a show flying at his head), but look at their retired numbers:

Sure, the Red Sox have their (more or less) equivalents of Joe DiMaggio (5) to Ted Williams (9), Yaz (8) to Reggie Jackson (44), or Johnny Pesky (6) to Phil Rizzuto (10). But where are the Red Sox’s Ron Guidry (49), Thurman Munson (15), Don Mattingly (23),
Elston Howard (32), or Billy Martin (1)?

On this years Red Sox team alone, the club rather easily handed out numbers 26 (Wade Boggs/Brock Holt), 38 (Curt Schilling/Matt Thornton), and 5 (Nomar Garciaparra/Johnny Gomes).

If that is not bad enough, the Red Sox gave Dwight Evans number (24) to Kevin MitchellShane Mack, and Mike Stanley before allowing Manny Ramirez to wear it. Since then, they gave it to Takashi Saito (!). A total of 45 players wore the retired numbers of Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), and Johnny Pesky (6) between the time they retired and their numbers were retired (including Bill Buckner when, well, you know…).

I understand wanting to be discriminate about retiring jersey numbers, but it is not near as sacred as it is about celebrating the past. So quit giving number 23 to Pedro Ciriaco (it’s El Tiante’s). Double retire number 24 for Dewey and ManRam. Retire number 43 for
Dennis Eckersley (who is still with the organization). Think about honoring Schilling’s contribution to two World Series titles after nearly a centuries drought. Keep number 33 to Jason Varitek (I mean he will never qualify for the Hall of Fame). And, for the love of
God, do not trot out some journeyman middle reliever in the year 2021 with the 34 jersey on (David Ortiz may not make the Hall of Fame either.

Maybe all of this is overblown. Numbers only matter so much, we are not the Yankees (in more ways than one), and history is celebrated in many ways. But, in the age of free agency, expansion, and Hall of Fame log jams, it is time to loosen the restrictions and celebrate some of the great players and personalities in Red Sox history. Jersey numbers retired or not, the memories of these legends will not easily dissipate. But, being reminded of their greatness every time we take a seat at Fenway is an added bonus to
the fan experience. History adds ambience, emotion, and enjoyment. Retired numbers is not about gate keeping, but celebrating.

So seriously, give Brock a different number and let Wade Boggs back into our history. And seriously, hand out Pedro’s number to anyone, and it is a fight!

(Also……I so cannot wait until next Spring Training when we can all begin sizing up the right field corner of Fenway with Xander Bogaerts’ number.)

Categories: 2004 World Series 2007 World Series Fenway Park Jason Varitek Will Middlebrooks Xander Bogearts

Thinks Pedro deserved the MVP and that Justin Verlander did not, that Dwight Evans was better than Jim Rice, that Marty Barrett was a worthy choice as favorite Red Sox player when I was a child, that J.D. Drew was very good for the Olde Towne Team, that Fenway Sports group owning Liverpool is not a proper reason to support that loathsome soccer club, that Peter Gammons needs a key lock on his cell phone, still thinks that Nomar Garciaparra is better than Derek Jeter, and that, finally, there is no such thing as being completely bias-free. When not writing about or watching the Red Sox, I moonlight as a father, a husband, a pastor, a doctoral candidate, an infielder and #2 hitter on the church softball team, soccer fan, Disney pass holder, snark manufacturer, and pizza connoisseur. Free time free since 2001.

One Response to “Red Sox Retired Jerseys” Subscribe

  1. jsc1973 September 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM #

    It’s a pet peeve of mine, too. And why in the world do the Red Sox give out Wade Boggs’ number freely, but have never re-issued Roger Clemens’ 21, even though he also went to the Yankees?
    As much as Schilling meant to the 2004 team, he didn’t play in Boston long enough, in my book, to justify retiring his number. If he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox, then maybe. But I’d rather see Tek’s 33 and Wake’s 49 up there for all they meant to the team for many years, including the championship seasons, before Schilling. Pedro belongs, and so does Papi, and the fact that Jim Rice is up there and Dewey isn’t is ridiculous. Just because the BBWAA put the third-best outfielder on the late-1970s Red Sox in the Hall of Fame and left out the other two is no reason for the team to ratify their judgment.
    Eck was 88-71 with a 107 ERA+ for the Red Sox. Oakland retired his number, and they’re the team that should. He’s in the Hall of Fame for what he did for them, not Boston.
    So, let’s have 1-4-6-8-9-14-21-24(x2)-26-27-33-34-42-45-49 hanging there someday soon, with a spot reserved for 15 as soon as Pedey hangs it up.