(This is part of a series on retired numbers, with somewhat of a focus on Retired Number Bandits — players who wore a number that was later retired at any point after the person for whom it was retired first wore it. See the introduction for more information and explanation on Bandits.)
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of seven teams that have retired at least one number and never had a Retired Number Bandit. Like most of those seven, this is mostly due to not retiring very many numbers.[table “” not found /]
Wade Boggs, 12
Boggs is one of the best hitters in baseball history. He won five batting titles with the Boston Red Sox and won a World Series with the New York Yankees. He was a supreme contact hitter with a great batting eye reminiscent of a previous generation — only Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Eddie Collins had as many walks as Boggs with fewer strikeouts, and among players with at least 1,000 walks and 80 percent more walks than strikeouts, only Willie Randolph and Ozzie Smith were Boggs’ contemporaries in the 1980s and ’90s.
Boggs played just 213 games in Tampa, but he recorded his 3,000th hit in a Devil Rays uniform and promised the team that he would wear their hat on his Hall of Fame plaque, a promise the led to the Hall claiming the ultimate decision-making power on that topic.
Although Boggs won a World Series with the Yankees, his five years in the Bronx did not merit having his number retired. The Red Sox took their time, but they have finally scheduled Boggs’ number 26 to be retired this coming season. Meanwhile, the (Devil) Rays retired the number 12 he wore in Tampa 16 years ago.
Boggs is also the subject of one of my favorite tweets ever:
Wade Boggs is my third favorite baseball player and my first favorite way to get cranberries
— Cakemittens (@cakemittens) August 5, 2013
Don Zimmer, 66
Zimmer played for five franchises in his 12-year MLB career. He then managed four teams and was a coach for eight different teams. In all, Zim was associated in one way or another with 12 different major league franchises in his 66 years in baseball, and he often said that every paycheck he had ever received had come from baseball.
Tampa Bay is the only franchise to retire a number in Zimmer’s honor, though; he “wore” 66 the year before he died in his final season as a Rays advisor, his 66th season in professional baseball.
Zimmer managed the Red Sox for five seasons from 1976-80, but his most memorable Boston moment came in 2003:
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