LF, 1B, DH
The most recent number retirement was on July 28, 2009, as the Red Sox retired the number 14 of Jim Rice.
The Red Sox have two official requirements for a player to have his number retired:
- Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
- At least 10 years played with the Red Sox
The Red Sox previously had a requirement that the player "must have finished their career with Red Sox", but this was reconsidered after the election of Carlton Fisk to the Hall of Fame. Fisk actually retired with the White Sox, but then-GM Dan Duquette hired him for one day as a special assistant, which allowed Fisk to technically end his career with the Red Sox. After that, with the anticipation that there might be other former Red Sox players who would be denied the chance to have their number retired by the club (a prime example would be Roger Clemens), the team dropped the rule. Some would argue that the rule still exists de facto, as Wade Boggs' number has not been retired by Boston even though he meets the official requirements (Boggs finished his career with the Tampa Bay Rays after spending five years with the rival New York Yankees). It should be noted that Boston did honor Boggs by voting him into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004, the year before he was enshrined into Cooperstown.
The only exception that has been made to date is for former Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired on September 28, 2008. Pesky neither spent ten years as a player nor was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame; however, Red Sox ownership cited "... his versatility of his contributions—on the field, off the field, in the dugout...", including as a manager, scout, and special instructor and decided that the honor had been well-earned.
The number 42 was officially retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, but Mo Vaughn was one of a handful of players to continue wearing #42 through a grandfather clause. He last wore it for the team in 1998. In commemoration of Jackie Robinson Day, MLB invited players to wear the number 42 for games played on April 15, Coco Crisp (CF), David Ortiz (DH), and DeMarlo Hale (Coach) did that in 2007 and again in 2008. Starting in 2009, MLB had all uniformed players for all teams wear #42 for Jackie Robinson Day.
While not officially retired, the Red Sox have not issued several numbers since the departure of prominent figures who wore them, specifically:
- 21: Roger Clemens RHP (1984–1996).
- 38: Curt Schilling RHP (2004–2007); retired as member of Red Sox.
- 45: Pedro Martínez RHP (1998–2004).
Neither Schilling nor Martinez would qualify to have their uniform number retired based on the above "10 year" policy.
As a result, several players did not get issued their prior team's jersey number upon joining the Red Sox, including but not limited to: Josh Beckett's #21, Érik Bédard's #45, and Sean Casey's #21.
There is also considerable debate in Boston media circles and among fans about the potential retiring of Tony Conigliaro's number 25.
Nonetheless, since Conigliaro's last full season in Boston, 1970, the number has been assigned to several players (including Orlando Cepeda, Mark Clear, Don Baylor, Larry Parrish, Jack Clark, Troy O'Leary, Jeremy Giambi and Mike Lowell). In 2012, manager Bobby Valentine wore #25 as a tribute to Tony Conigliaro.
Until the late 1990s, the numbers originally hung on the right-field facade in the order in which they were retired: 9–4–1–8. It was pointed out that the numbers, when read as a date (9/4/18), marked the eve of the first game of the 1918 World Series, the last championship series that the Red Sox won before 2004. After the facade was repainted, the numbers were rearranged in numerical order. In 2012, the numbers were rearranged again in chronological order of retirement (9,4,1,8,27,6,14) followed by Robinson's 42.
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Famous quotes containing the words numbers and/or retired:
“The forward Youth that would appear
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
Nor in the Shadows sing
His Numbers languishing.”
—Andrew Marvell (16211678)
“Still grows the vivacious lilac a generation after the door and lintel and the sill are gone, unfolding its sweet-scented flowers each spring, to be plucked by the musing traveller; planted and tended once by childrens hands, in front-yard plots,now standing by wall-sides in retired pastures, and giving place to new-rising forests;Mthe last of that stirp, sole survivor of that family.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)