The Red Sox today announced that the club will retire Wade Boggs' uniform number 26 on May 26, 2016. The Hall of Famer's .338 batting average with the Red Sox is second only to Ted Williams, and no one has ever played more games at third base in team history. He helped lead the Red Sox to three postseason berths, including the 1986 American League Championship, whose 30th anniversary will be celebrated this year.
The number 26 will be the 10th on the right field facade of Fenway Park, joining Bobby Doerr's #1; Joe Cronin's #4; Johnny Pesky's #6; Carl Yastrzemski's #8; Ted Williams' #9; Jim Rice's #14; Carlton Fisk's #27; Pedro Martinez's #45, and Jackie Robinson's #42, which is retired throughout Major League Baseball.
"Wade Boggs was the best third baseman in Red Sox history and one of the best hitters of his generation," said Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry. "Whether it was his legendary hand-eye coordination or the discipline of his highly superstitious routine, his ability to hit line drive after line drive was remarkable. We congratulate our first ballot Hall of Famer on this recognition."
"Wade Boggs took the art of hitting to an extraordinary level," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "From 1982 to 1992, the five-time batting champion was invincible. Boggs worked at his craft relentlessly and for nearly a decade New England fans worshiped him, pitchers feared him, and young children emulated him. It is fitting that his batting average with the Red Sox is second only to the greatest hitter who ever lived. We eagerly await the spring when we can honor the extraordinary legacy of this 12-time All Star."
"I am part of a generation that grew up watching Wade Boggs play at Fenway Park," said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. "For those of us who came early for BP, we could count on Wade religiously signing autographs every single day, as well as launching baseballs off the Monster day in and day out. This is a long overdue acknowledgement of a player who is arguably the best pure hitter in Red Sox history. We look forward to affixing his number 26 in its rightful place alongside the great legends on Fenway Park's right field facade."
"I am so humbled and honored to be among the greatest legends to ever put on a uniform for the amazing city of Boston," said Boggs. "To say that your number will never be worn again is the highest honor an athlete can receive. Thank you."
Boggs was an eight-time All-Star during his 11 seasons as Boston's third baseman from 1982-92. During his Red Sox career, he led all major leaguers in batting average (.338), hits (2,098), doubles (422), on-base percentage (.428), and times reaching base safely (3,124), and also topped the American League in walks (1,004) and OPS (.890). While with Boston, he won five batting titles, led the league in on-base percentage six times, earned six Silver Slugger Awards, and recorded at least 200 hits in a franchise-record seven different seasons.
Among Red Sox, Boggs' .428 on-base percentage stands behind only Williams (.482) and Jimmie Foxx (.429). He ranks fifth in team history in hits (2,098), doubles (422), walks (1,004), and times on base (3,124). Only seven players have appeared in more games for the Red Sox than Boggs, whose 1,520 games at third base are a club record for that position.
The left-handed hitting Boggs batted over .300 in all but one of his 11 seasons with the Red Sox, reaching the mark in each of his first 10. He posted a .349 average in 1982, his debut season, and went on to win five of the next six batting titles. From 1985-88, he became one of only four players to lead the AL in batting average for four straight years, joining Rod Carew (1972-75), Ty Cobb (5 years, 1911-15), and Nap Lajoie (1901-04).
Boggs' seven campaigns with 200 hits are three more than any other member of the Red Sox (Jim Rice did it four times). Those seven seasons came in consecutive years from 1983-89, the longest streak with 200 hits in modern major league history (since 1900) until Ichiro Suzuki put together 10 in a row from 2001-10.
Boggs' eight All-Star seasons with the Red Sox are the most for the team as a third baseman and trail only Carl Yastrzemski (18) and Williams (17) in franchise history. He started a club-record seven straight All-Star Games from 1986-92.
Boston's leader in both hits and batting average in nine straight years from 1983-91, Boggs hit safely in 135 games in 1985, still tied for the most in major league history. That year, he also established Red Sox records that continue to stand with 240 hits and 72 multi-hit games.
Boggs totaled least 200 hits and 100 walks in four straight seasons from 1986-89, still the longest streak in big league history. He led the majors in on-base percentage six times in a seven-year stretch, including a record five consecutive years winning the AL crown from 1985-89.
He reached base 3,124 times as a member of the Red Sox, most in MLB from 1982-92 and the most in major league history through any player's first 11 seasons until Albert Pujols bested him by one (3,125).
Despite delivering more than 11 homers just once in his career, Boggs was a feared hitter. He holds the all-time record for seasons leading the AL in intentional walks, doing so in each of the last six years of his Red Sox career (1987-92).
In fact, Boggs wore a Red Sox uniform for every season he led the AL in a significant statistical category: on-base percentage (6 times), intentional walks (6 times), batting average (5 times), runs scored (2 times), doubles (2 times), walks (2 times), OPS (2 times), and hits (once).
Boggs helped the Red Sox to three postseason appearances over a five-year stretch (1986, 1988, 1990). He reached base safely via hit or walk in 20 of 22 of those postseason games, batting .311.
In his entire 18-year career, which included stints with the New York Yankees (1993-97) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-99), Boggs hit .328. As a 41-year-old in 1999, his final season, he became just the 23rd member of the 3,000-hit club, reaching the milestone with a memorable home run. He remains the all-time leader among major league third basemen in times on base (4,445), ranks second at the position in batting average, hits (3,010), and doubles (578), and is third in runs scored (1,513).
In 2005, Boggs was a first-ballot inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where his plaque depicts him wearing a Red Sox hat. Now 57, he resides in Tampa, FL.