On Thursday, the Red Sox announced plans to retire David Ortiz’s number 34 on June 23rd of this season. It is a bit of a leap from their history of retired numbers, since they generally wait until the player has been inducted into the Hall of Fame before immortalizing them at Fenway. Of course, they recently made an exception for Johnny Pesky, and it looks like they’ll be heading in this direction moving forward. Since this means they’re more likely to honor the players I grew up with, it is fine with me on a personal level.
As for Ortiz, we’ll start with the good news. That is, we’ll be able to celebrate his accomplishments yet again. Obviously, we are coming off a year in which we spent the majority of the season doing just that. However, I think I speak for everyone when I say that Red Sox fans won’t be complaining about doing it again. This kind of ceremony also means we’ll (likely) get the returns of some of our favorites. That could be everyone from Pedro Martinez to Jason Varitek to Manny Ramirez to Tim Wakefield, and likely many more. It’s always good when that group gets back together.
The bad news is, it’s another sign that Ortiz won’t be coming back. One would have to assume they discussed this plan with the Boston legend, and asked that he’s absolutely sure he’s retiring for good. Of course, if you’ve listened to him at all over the last year, that’s been made abundantly clear. He’s talked over and over again about how hard the grind of a 162-game has become for him at this age, and that despite his otherworldly performance in 2016, his body just can’t take it anymore. It’s only natural that people are holding out hope that he’ll come back, but it’s probably about time to come to grips with the fact that his career is over.
As sad as that may be, it’s nice to see that the team won’t be hesitating to honor Ortiz. It’s surprising to see that they’re retiring the number so early, but if anyone has earned this kind of honor, it’s the most important player in franchise history. We’ll see you on June 23, David.