Every year, the Yankees have an Old Timers game where former players get together and play an exhibition game for fans. It’s something I’ve always been extremely jealous of and I never really understood why the Red Sox didn’t do it. There’s basically nothing easier to profit off of than nostalgia. Apparently the Red Sox used to do it, and this year they’re doing it again for the first time in 25 years. Prior to Sunday’s game, Boston will have an alumni game featuring 27 former players on two teams managed by Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans. It won’t be televised live, but NESN will show a taping of it Sunday night. The full rosters can be seen here.
I’m excited to see a lot of these players, because much like the majority of this planet I am a sucker for nostalgia. With that in mind, I thought I’d rank all 27 players (sort of) in order of how excited I am to see them. I should mention that I didn’t really start watching the Red Sox until 1999, so my rankings are obviously influenced by that.
1. Pedro Martinez
A lot of the fun with this game isn’t really about seeing the former stars — we see them all the time — but instead the random role players from your childhood. That being said, Pedro has to be number one. Pedro is number one in whatever he is involved with, and this is no different. Watching Pedro is the best, and no one can challenge this ranking.
2. Bill Lee
Lee is obviously way before my time, but everyone knows Spaceman Lee. He is legitimately one of the strangest and most interesting Red Sox players of all time, and if we’re being honest he is who I hope to be when (if?) I get into my late-60’s/early-70’s. The best part of Lee being in this game is that the dude still plays baseball regularly and apparently just tossed four innings in a mens league earlier this week.
3. Rich Garces
This was the first name on the roster that made me smile ear to ear. Lee is crazy and Pedro is great, but Garces was not a name I think of all the time but everyone loved El Guapo in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I predict he gets one of the five or so loudest ovations.
4. Derek Lowe
The 2004 Red Sox were obviously going to be as heavily featured in this game as possible, and Lowe is one of the faces of that team. He was one of my favorites growing up, and not just because he won all of the clinchers in the 2004 postseason. Anyone who can be an All-Star caliber closer and starter within five or so years is okay by me.
5. Keith Foulke
I feel like Foulke is the rare member of the 2004 team that doesn’t get enough credit. His career went downhill pretty quickly after that season and he wasn’t the prototypical flamethrowing closer, but he was nails that year. He also tossed 97 innings that year, including the postseason, which probably didn’t help the later part of his career. Anyway, I see you Keith, and I respect you.
6. Mike Lowell
The 2007 team is horribly under-appreciated in Boston, and Lowell was one of the faces of that team. A throw-in to the Josh Beckett deal, it’s amazing that he ended up as one of the biggest fan favorites of the last quarter century.
7. Orlando Cabrera
The turning point of the 2004 season is always looked at as the day they traded Nomar Garciaparra and ended up with Cabrera as their shortstop. He wasn’t a star-level player, but he did everything they needed to do for the second half of that season. Also, I could have sworn he spent more than that half-season with the team, but apparently my memory is lying to me!
8. Troy O’Leary
Troy O’Leary was my brother’s favorite player growing up, and he was also much better than I remember him being.
9. Alan Embree and 10. Mike Timlin
These two players will forever be associated in my mind as the perfect double-barreled setup crew for the early-to-mid-2000s. I’m very glad they’re on the same team.
11. Darren Lewis
Lewis was awful in 1999, but I didn’t notice that because I was eight and didn’t really know what I was watching. He seemed really fast though and I liked watching him play defense and run the bases. It’s actually kind of shocking how bad he was that year because I loved him.
12. Oil Can Boyd
Boyd isn’t quite on the Bill Lee level of pitching as an elderly man, but Boyd is 58 years old and playing in this game. You can’t not respect that.
13. Jonny Gomes
Gomes should probably be higher on this list because he was an absolute blast in 2013, but we see him a bunch now and if we’re being honest he’s not very good at broadcasting. A bit of the shine is off but it will still be fun to see him back on the field.
14. Wade Boggs
Boggs is the second-best player on this list by baseball skills, but I was barely alive for his prime and my memories of him as a player are from when he was with the Devil Rays. So, ya know, whatever.
15. Mike Greenwell
Like Boggs, I have no memory of Greenwell. I appreciate that he was very good, but I have no connection here.
16. Sam Horn
My associations with Sam Horn are when he used to be on NESN and the Sons of Sam Horn forum on line.
17. Lenny DiNardo
DiNardo would have been a wild deep cut that would have ranked much higher on this list had he not emerged as a NESN personality. He’s fine in that role, but it took away from his randomness, which is a big help in these rankings.
18. Mike Myers
I have very vague memories of Myers in that 2004 season, but I do not remember him pitching in the postseason. He did, and he was bad. But anyone from 2004 is welcome in this game.
19. — 24. Keith MacWhorter, Jim Corsi, Chris Howard, Steve Lomansey, Rick Miller, Scott Cooper
These names are not really in order, but they are the names I had to look up.
25. Lou Merloni
We get enough Merloni in our lives, and if you want you can catch him on the radio every week day doing things like convincing people that an All-Star-level basketball player is average.
26. Julio Lugo
I’m not quite sure why Lugo is in this game. He did win a World Series with the team but he was really bad his entire time in Boston.
27. Steve Lyons
Do I have to explain this one?