Dwight Evans: The Case for No. 24 to Be Retired at Fenway

Dan McConeCorrespondent IJune 1, 2009

‘The Man of a Thousand Stances’.




Regardless of the nicknames, Dwight Evans was the man who patrolled the Boston Red Sox right field for nearly 19 years.


He did it well too.


But the question is, for a player with a legendary status like Dwight Evans had in Boston, why isn’t his number retired?


The Boston Red Sox have two requirements to getting a player’s number retired:

1.      Election into the Baseball Hall of Fame

2.      Play 10 years with the Red Sox


Jim Rice is getting his day this year. 


Johnny Pesky’s No. 6 is retired, yet he’s not in the Hall of Fame.


Someday, maybe Wade Boggs will too.


There’s debate whether Tony Conigliaro’s No. 25 should hang in right field too.


So, why is there no talk of Dwight Michael Evans number 24 being retired?


Although Evans is off the ballot for the Hall of Fame, he did play 19 years for the Sox.  Yet, his number is not retired. 


It’s not like Dewey posted average numbers.  


Here’s a great case for Dwight Evans:


In his early days, Evans was not known for his bat but more for his defensive prowess.  His power lacked, but, he had a right arm thunderbolt attached to his body.


It wasn’t until when he was nearly 30 when Evans became a power threat too. Former Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak changed his batting stance one final time and helped Evans find the missing power.


Dewey finished his career with a .272 batting average, knocked out 385 home runs and drove in 1,384 RBI.  He had 2,446 hits and 1,470 runs scored.  


In a 162 game average, that’s a .272/24/86 with 152 hits and 91 runs scored. Pretty impressive numbers for someone able to play 20 overall seasons of baseball.


His 385 home runs rank tenth among American League right-handed hitters


From 1980-1989, he led all American Leaguers with 289 home runs. Evans is the only player in the 1980s to hit at least 20 home runs in each season.


For a guy who was not known for his bat, from 1984-1987, he put up numbers that rivaled most major league sluggers. He averaged 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 106 runs scored. 


Evans won eight Gold Gloves and six times in his career he had 10 or more outfield assists. From 1975-76, '78-80, Evans averaged 14 outfield assists.


Four times, Dewey finished in the Top 10 of the MVP balloting. One of his best finishes was fourth in 1987. His numbers that year were .305/34/123 and led the league in walks with 106.  


He was also a three time All Star and a Silver Slugger twice.  


His plate awareness was another key to his game.  Three times Evans led the league in walks. Three times he walked over 100 times.


Evans helped guide the Sox to four post season appearances and two World Series, 1975 and 1986.  Both heart breakers.  In the two Series appearances, Evans hit over .300 with 3 homers and 14 RBI.


Through all the numbers Evans put up, he was incredibly versatile in the line-up and out in the field. For most of his career, Dewey hit between third and seventh in the Sox line-up. He even led off for Boston.


In 1986, he became the first player to hit the first pitch thrown on opening day for a home run.  Evans hit a Jack Morris first pitch fastball over the wall in Detroit to lead off the season.


He played mostly right field, but also played left and center field.  Toward the end of his career, he was an outstanding first baseman.


Who can forget 1975, and Game Six—the most unforgettable game and World Series ever.  Lost in the Carlton Fisk home run in the 12th inning of that game, was one of the most remarkable defensive plays in World Series history.


Joe Morgan hit a bomb to right field that Evans tracked and made a leaping catch, saving a home run and then turning and throwing a laser to first base to double off Ken Griffey.


Once retired, Dwight Evans stayed within the Red Sox family.  He served as hitting coach in 2002 and consultant of Player Development.  You can find him at a lot of Sox games and helps participate in events at Fenway.


The Boston Red Sox need to loosen up the constrictions on retired numbers.  Sometimes, it’s not about being a Hall of Famer.  It’s about what you did for that team. 


I’m sure Pedro Martinez will get his day in Boston.  He played eight years.  Eight dominating years. 


So too, will Manny Ramirez.


Why not Dwight Evans?  He deserves it.  Although, not blessed with speed, he was a great defensive player and a fine offensive player.  He was versatile.  Hit with power.  Was a leader in the clubhouse. 


Back in the day, he would define what it meant to be a true ‘Dirt Dog’.


Retire No. 24.


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