Wade Boggs to Have No. 26 Retired by Red Sox: Date, Comments and Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2015

Former New York Yankees and former Boston Red Sox's player Wade Boggs waves to the crowd at Fenway Park in Boston prior to the start of the game between the Yankees and the Red Sox Friday, Sept. 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
CHARLES KRUPA/Associated Press

Twenty-four years after he played his final game for the organization, the Boston Red Sox announced Monday they will retire Wade Boggs' No. 26 in May.

Boggs was overwhelmed upon hearing the news:

Boggs played in 1,625 games for the Red Sox. According to Baseball-Reference.com, his 71.6 cumulative WAR is the third-highest all time among Boston's position players, ranking behind only Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.  

He's one of the best hitters ever to wear a Red Sox uniform, with his .338 average second in franchise history and his .428 on-base percentage good for third place. The Boston Globe's Alex Speier also provided his Fenway Park splits, which further cement his place in Red Sox history:

In all but three of his 11 years in Boston, Boggs represented the team in the All-Star Game and was a six-time Silver Slugger winner.

Excluding Jackie Robinson, whose No. 42 was retired by Major League Baseball, Boggs will be the ninth player to receive this honor from the Red Sox, joining Williams, Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk and Pedro Martinez.

Despite how much he did for the team, the Red Sox have been slow to salute Boggs.

"It would be nice," Boggs said in 2013 of the possibility of getting his number retired, per Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe. "Am I bitter? I thought when I wore a Boston hat in the Hall of Fame I'd be up there. It's been eight years now. I used to be bitter. But I think those days are over. Was I bitter? Absolutely."

Many pointed to Boggs joining the New York Yankees in 1993 as a significant reason why his number remained in use by the team. Boggs famously rode around Yankee Stadium on horseback after the team won the 1996 World Series—an image seared into the brains of Red Sox fans for years to come:

In 2012, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo provided the Red Sox's official line on the situation—a position which Cafardo noted the team had failed to follow in the past:

Over the years, Boggs has returned to Fenway for various events. He has been told by the Red Sox that his career does not meet the team's criteria for having a number retired: a player must have spent at least 10 years with the Red Sox and finished his career in Boston.

Yet the Red Sox made an exception for Carlton Fisk, who spent his first 11 years with the Red Sox and then his final 13 with the White Sox. Through some gimmick of employing him as a special assistant to the GM, the team rationalized that he met the criteria and now his No. 27 is affixed with the other retired numbers on the facade in right field.

This past season, the Red Sox retired Martinez's No. 45 jersey despite the fact he finished his playing career with the Philadelphia Phillies. As a result, keeping Boggs' No. 26 out of the right-field facade became harder and harder to justify.

At long last, Boggs will receive his just due, giving him one heck of a Christmas present.