Friday, June 28, 2013

What's a guy gotta do to get his number retired around here...?

                               According to the MLB Red Sox site, the retired number policy goes like this: " (1)Induction into the hall of fame, and (2)  Play at least 10 years in a Red Sox uniform."  Sounds pretty simple, and at first it was; the first four players to have their number posted on the right field façade - Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams and Carl Yazstremski ( #s 4, 1, 9 and 8, respectively)- fit the criteria.  In fact, only Cronin didn't play his entire career for Boston, spending the first Half of it  playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Senators.  A number of players who went to the Hall of fame and had maybe their peak years playing for the Bosox, weren't eligible. Players like Jimmie Foxx (who wore a Sox cap into the hall), Lefty Grove, Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker and such, will never have their number retired at Fenway.  Things got a little complicated in the late '90s when Carlton Fisk was elected to the hall...

                  Fisk was called up briefly in 1969, but didn't stick with the club until 1972, the year he won the rookie of the year award.  He played with Boston until 1980, which is only nine years, by my count.  Fisk went into the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap, despite playing the majority of his career with the Chicago White Sox.  When Fisk's # was retired by Boston, it seemed that the Red Sox brass had loosened it's stance a little...on the opposite end of the scale there is the Boston Celtics, who seemed to retire everybody's number but the popcorn vendor between the late '50s  and early '80s (except Cedric Maxwell, who deserved it more than say Jim Luscotoff or Satch Sanders, but anyway...).

         The next # to be retired at Fenway was #42, Jackie Robinson's, which is retired throughout the MLB.  In 2009, after 15 years years of trying, Jim Rice's #14 made it to the HOF, playing his entire 15 year career with Boston (therefore his number was retired by the Sox). Recently though, the club has totally gone against it's policy by retiring Johnny Pesky's #6.  A .300 hitting shortstop during the Ted Williams years, and a fixture with the club until his death last year, Pesky is not a member of baseball's Hall of Fame.  Confusing matters further is the fact that Wade Boggs-a five time batting champion who spent 11 years with Boston on his way to the Hall- does NOT have his #26 retired.  Why is that?  Is it because he wanted to go into Cooperstown wearing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays cap? (He's wearing a Sox cap, btw)  It can't be because he went to the Yankees after he left town...he was mostly let go after his sub par 1992, season when he batted .259.

             Boggs has recently stated that he wants his number retired and put up in right field with the others, and that should happen soon...he not only fits all the criteria, he was the best third baseman who ever put on a Red Sox uniform.  As I write this, I am listening to the T.V. in the other room, and apparently, both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been traded to the Brooklyn Nets.  These are two players that helped the Celtics win the 2008 NBA championship, and both will go to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield Ma. and have their numbers hung up in the rafters of the Boston Garden. (I REFUSE to call it anything else; I don't care what heartless corporation is whoring itself as the building's name...the same goes for Shea stadium...Citibank can suck it).  Point is, it shouldn't be so hard to have your number retired by the Red Sox, but it is...other teams would love this problem...                 


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