Boston Red Sox

David Ortiz's No. 34 to Be Retired by Red Sox: Details and Reaction

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox reacts on deck before the final at-bat of his career in the eighth inning of game three of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians on October 10, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2017

The Boston Red Sox announced Thursday that the team plans to retire David Ortiz's No. 34 on June 23.

Ortiz's No. 34 will be the 11th number retired on the right field facade at Fenway Park, according to MLB.com. It joins Bobby Doerr's No. 1, Joe Cronin's No. 4, Johnny Pesky's No. 6, Carl Yastrzemski's No. 8, Ted Williams' No. 9, Jim Rice's No. 14, Wade Boggs' No. 26, Carlton Fisk's No. 27, Pedro Martinez's No. 45 and Jackie Robinson's No. 42, which has been retired by every MLB team.

As Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk noted, the Red Sox haven't traditionally honored a player so quickly after his retirement:

The Sox used to have some strict rules about number retiring, doing so only for players who made the Hall of Fame, played in Boston for at least a decade and ended their career in Boston. They have made several exceptions to that rule in recent years, for good reason. Ortiz will, in all likelihood, have fulfilled even the old requirements if the Sox were to have waited for five years, but as it is, doing so now is eminently appropriate.

Ortiz, who retired after last season, finished his career as a .286 hitter with 541 home runs and 1,768 RBI. He also helped lead the Red Sox to three World Series titles. Big Papi's 483 home runs with the Red Sox trail only Ted Williams' 521, and he's third in club history with 1,530 RBI.

He is also one of the most clutch postseason hitters in baseball history, famously sparking Boston's comeback from a 3-0 deficit to the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series with walk-off hits in Games 4 and 5. Further, "among major leaguers with at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic, Ortiz owns the best-ever World Series batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.576) and slugging percentage (.795)," per MLB.com.

Had Ortiz decided to continue his career beyond last season, few would have been surprised. He was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2016 after hitting .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI, leading the Red Sox to the postseason.

He'll also be remembered as one of the most popular Red Sox players in history. Despite controversies over possible performance-enhancing drug use (he was flagged in a 2009 report for testing positive for a substance in 2003 that has since been banned but wasn't at the time), he never tested positive for any PEDs banned at the time of his testing.

In both Boston and his native Dominican Republic, Ortiz was a true ambassador for the game, so it was inevitable that his number would be retired among the other Red Sox greats.

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