Sox to retire Papi's No. 34 before June game

Sox to retire Papi's No. 34 before June game

BOSTON -- The right-field facade at Fenway Park is reserved for the numbers of legends like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Pedro Martinez. In a few months, David Ortiz's No. 34 will join them.

The Red Sox announced on Thursday that the number-retirement ceremony for their beloved Big Papi will take place in a ceremony prior to the June 23 home game against the Angels.

The team had already surprised Ortiz prior to his final regular-season game on Oct. 2 by telling him that his number would be retired at some point in 2017.

MLB Tonight on Ortiz's number

Ortiz's jersey will become the 11th to be retired, joining those of Bobby Doerr (No. 1), Joe Cronin (4), Johnny Pesky (6), Yastrzemski (8), Williams (9), Jim Rice (14), Wade Boggs (26), Carlton Fisk (27), Martinez (45) and Jackie Robinson (42).

This will mark the first time the Red Sox have retired a player's number within a year of retirement. In fact, the longstanding tradition has been for the Red Sox to wait until a player is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame before a number retirement.

It is a fitting honor for Ortiz, who is not only the all-time leader among designated hitters in games, hits, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits, total bases and RBIs, but he also ranks among Boston franchise bests in nearly every offensive category.

Signed by the Red Sox after he was released by the Twins following the 2002 season, Ortiz became one of the most iconic players of his generation and most clutch hitters in franchise history. The MVP of the '04 American League Championship Series and '13 World Series, Ortiz was an integral leader of three World Series championship teams, including the '04 club that broke the team's 86-year championship drought.

The indelible moments Ortiz offered over the course of those championship runs -- the walk-offs against the Yankees in 2004, the grand slam against the Tigers in '13 -- helped cement his status as a Boston legend well before his historic farewell season. In June, he'll formally join those ranks.

Perhaps by the time Ortiz has his number retired, he will be working for the Red Sox. The club is in the process of negotiating with the slugger to identify a role going forward. Ortiz has also expressed interest in doing some broadcasting, something his outgoing personality would seem to be a good fit for.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.