The best pure hitter — not that I’ve never been clear on what people mean when they say that — of the 1980s speaks to the Boston Globe:
Wade Boggs already owns a piece of the Field of Dreams. But he still dreams that the Red Sox will ease his pain and retire his No. 26 at Fenway Park.
“It would be nice,” said Boggs, 54, who is currently the assistant baseball coach of the Wharton High School Wildcats here, wearing pinstripes. “Am I bitter? I thought when I wore a Boston hat in the Hall of Fame I’d be up there.
“It’s been eight years now. I used to be bitter. But I think those days are over. Was I bitter? Absolutely.”
He probably deserves it on the merits, but having one’s number retired isn’t an exercise in quantitative analysis. Yes, Boggs has a “B” on his Hall of Fame cap, but there were rumors that the Devil Rays included a “wear a Tampa Bay cap” on your plaque provision in his contract there at the end of his career. Boggs denied it, but the Hall of Fame felt it necessary to change its rules afterward to take away the choice on the matter from the players.
Also didn’t help that Boggs rode that horse in the Yankees World Series celebration in 1996. Which was totally cool and if you hold that against him for some reason you’re a heartless feind, but maybe the Yankees associations hurt his number-retirement cause in Boston.
You have to imagine it’ll happen for him eventually — the Red Sox can’t deny how awesome Boggs was for them forever, right? — but it’s not often that anyone gets what they want in this world by going to the press and whining like this either. Play the long game, Wade.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.