Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Red Sox Should Retire Wade Boggs' No. 26; He Earned It

Wade Boggs finished his 18-year career with a .328 batting average, .415 OBP, 3,010 hits, 1,412 walks, 578 doubles, 1,513 runs, and 1,014 RBI.

Eleven of Boggs' 18 seasons were spent in Boston, where he posted the vast majority of those numbers.

Boggs place in Red Sox history is quite secure. Twenty-two years after leaving Boston, the left-handed hitter remains second in batting (.338), third in on-base percentage (.428), fourth in walks (1,004), fifth in hits (2,098), fifth in doubles (422), and sixth in runs (1,067).

Yet, despite his greatness, and all of his many achievements, Boggs' No. 26 still hasn't been retired by the Red Sox after all these years.

Starting in 1983, Boggs won five batting titles with Boston, including four in a row from 1985 to 1988. The only other players to win four batting titles in a row are Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn.

Boggs also batted .349 in 1982, his rookie year, which would have won the batting title. But he was 121 plate appearances short of the required minimum of 502.

From 1983 to 1989, Boggs had seven consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits, an American League record. However, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki later surpassed this mark, with 10.

Boggs' ability to hit the ball bordered on freakish.

In 1985, Boggs had 72 multi-hit games, a club record.

That year, Boggs also hit .390 with the count 0-2. Think about that for a moment.

In 1986, Boggs faced 3,059 pitches and swung and missed just 46 times.

In fact, Boggs struck out only 470 times in 7,323 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox. That's just 6 percent of the time, which is simply amazing.

Yes, the man had hawk eyes.

The third baseman went to eight consecutive All Star Games with Boston, and 12 consecutive overall.

Considering all of the above numbers, how did it come to pass that Boggs ever played for another team? Well, the Red Sox simply let him walk away as a free agent.

Boggs batted a career-worst .259 in 1992, and the Red Sox didn't want him back. So, the free agent signed a three-year, $11 million deal with the Yankees in December of that year. New York offered him one more year than the Dodgers, who were also interested.

The perennial All Star quickly proved he wasn't washed up. As a member of the Yankees, he went on to make three straight All-Star appearances, had four straight .300-plus seasons, and even collected two Gold Glove Awards for his defense.

In 1996, Boggs helped the Yankees win their first World Series title in 18 years, which would ultimately be his only world title. The image of him riding around Yankee Stadium after Game 6 — on the back of an NYPD horse, with his index finger in the air — is burned into the minds of many Red Sox fans.

Boggs ultimately spent five seasons with New York, and then two with Tampa Bay, before retiring. But those seven cumulative years were still four less than the eleven he spent in Boston.

In fact, Boggs is enshrined in Cooperstown, wearing a Red Sox cap. Yet, his No. 26 has yet to be retired by the organization. Despite this, the Red Sox inducted Boggs into their Hall of Fame in 2004.

According the Red Sox' criteria, a player must end his career with Boston, among other things, for his number to be retired. Yet, that stipulation won't likely keep Boston from retiring Pedro Martinez's number this season.

Moreover, Carlton Fisk — who retired as a member of the White Sox, and played more seasons with Chicago than Boston — had his No. 27 retired by the Red Sox.

I think that any reasonable person would concur; it's finally time for the Red Sox to do the right thing and retire Wade Bogg's No. 26 this season.

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