Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Ira Flagstead, and Larry Lucchino will be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame as the class of 2016:
Congrats to the 2016 #RedSox Hall of Fame inductees, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Larry Lucchino & Ira Flagstead! pic.twitter.com/gQx8Zwr8Cf— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) January 11, 2016
When it comes to the recent players, there are no surprises here. Jason Varitek was the team's first Captain in 14 years, and their last to date, even with the presence of obvious successors in David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. He spent his entire 15 year career with the Red Sox, acting as a reliable fixture behind the plate as so many pieces moved around him, and jumping into the arms of two closers in celebration after the final outs in 2004 and 2007.
Wakefield? Somehow he managed to spend even longer in a Red Sox uniform even though he joined the team only after flaring out in Pittsburgh. The Sox gave him another chance, and Wakefield turned the knuckleball into a career. While Varitek was legitimately one of the best at his craft, Wakefield's place in the hall was earned as much through dedication and loyalty as anything else. The perpetual team option he gave the Red Sox remains unique to this day, and one of his greatest moments with the team came when he allowed himself to get bludgeoned over three innings to preserve the bullpen. Without that moment of self-sacrifice, Wakefield may never have had a chance to pick up the win in Game 5, and the Red Sox may not have won it all in 2004.
As for Ira Flagstead, he's one of those players from long ago whose performances don't quite hold up under modern scrutiny. He was fine with the Red Sox, but perhaps not as impressive as the five straight top-25 MVP finishes would suggest. Still, things like the Hall of Fame--particularly team-specific ones--are often more about perception than anything else to begin with. And in the dark days following the trade of Babe Ruth, Flagstead was a fixture in Fenway. We might prefer to forget that particular decade existed, but if that's not an option...
And then there's Lucchino. Well, this one should be fun. Marc will be making the case for him in more detail later because he's a glutton for punishment, but suffice it to say at least as many people would just as soon strike Lucchino's name from the records dishonorably as would support his inclusion here. But it's no surprise he's in. Fenway Sports Group has always stood behind Lucchino, often to a fault. Nobody can deny that he made some positive contributions to the team. But, well...he also brought us Bobby Valentine.
Hall of Infamy, perhaps?