Forget the horsey ride and retire Wade Boggs' number already

(AP Photo)
Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Contributing Writer

Most of us didn’t stop liking Wade Boggs because he went to the Yankees.

Sure, it stung a bit to see him wear pinstripes, but it would have hurt to see play for any other team. The Yankees weren’t 100 percent loathsome yet in those days. It wasn’t until about 1998 when we started realizing they were the spawn of Satan. Allegedly.

Seeing Boggs jump on the back of the police horse was what did it. It is an image we can’t get out of our heads, and it is an image that means his number will probably never be retired by the Boston Red Sox.

If you’re too young to remember the full story, Boggs helped the Yankees win the World Series in his fourth year in the Bronx in 1996. In his excitement following the victory, which came 10 years after the heartache with the Sox against the Mets, Boggs jumped on the horse behind a police officer and took a victory lap around the warning track of Yankee Stadium.

It’s been said that there are 10 things a guy should never do and cheerleading is about five of them. Well, riding on the back of a horse with another man is probably at least three more.

Had Boggs commandeered the horse and took it for a ride by himself like Ted Williams would have done it would be a completely different story.

Instead, Boggs rode around like he was Miss Kitty taking a ride with Marshal Dillon. It was awful. Just awful.

Plus, Red Sox fans saw it as Boggs rubbing it in our faces that he finally won while we were still losers, even though there is no way that was his reason for jumping on the horse.

Nearly 19 years later, it is time to forgive Boggs for his Howard Dean moment and welcome him, and his number, back to Fenway Park.

The Red Sox put Boggs in the team’s hall of fame in 2004, but they have refused to retire his No. 26. Since Boggs left town, 13 guys, including Lee Tinsley, Chris Snopek and Rob Stanifer, have donned the number. Future first-ballot Hall of Famer Brock Holt is currently wearing No. 26.

Nothing against the Brockstar, the All-Star who for some reason still has no starting stop on the last-place Red Sox, but he should see it as an honor to pick a new number so the Red Sox can finally do the right thing for Boggs.

By the way, the Red Sox have yet to issue No. 21 to any player after Roger Clemens left following the 1996 season.

More than 67,000 Packers fans packed Lambeau Field to honor Brett Favre this weekend, and Favre made it a personal mission to play for the Vikings just to stick it to the Packers.

Boggs, who wore a Red Sox hat when inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2005, wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. He went to the Yankees because he wanted to keep playing after the Red Sox prematurely gave up on him following his only sub-.300 season in the Hub.

He didn’t do a Deion Sanders and piggyback on a World Series title like Clemens did. He didn’t go for the money like Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon.

Boggs got a $250,000 raise to play for the Yankees in 1993, when he took home $2,950,000. That’s less than a third of the money the Red Sox will play Allen Craig next season.

Plus, Boggs was so damn good, especially in Fenway Park. He is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to the Splendid Splinter. Boggs batted .338 in his 11 years with the Red Sox. He hit an unfathomable .369 in Fenway, eight points higher than what Williams hit in his home park.

During the 1980s, Boggs was a constant reminder to the world that Teddy Ballgame did indeed hit .406 in 1941. Boggs’ name came up as the next guy to hit .400 every year.

Boggs was also the heart — or at least a valve on the heart — of the Red Sox teams that won the American League pennant in 1986 and American League East titles in 1988 and 1990. Winning the division and making the playoffs, by the way, was a lot tougher back when everybody didn’t make the playoffs.

Soon the Red Sox will retire No. 45 for Pedro Martinez. It will forever hang at Fenway next to Bobby Doerr’s No. 1, Joe Cronin’s No. 4, Johnny Pesky’s No. 6, Carl Yastrzemski’s No. 8, Williams’ No. 9, Jim Rice’s No. 14, Carlton Fisk’s No. 27 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.

All of those honors are deserving, but one is clearly missing. Well, OK, maybe two numbers are glaringly missing.

But Roger Clemens’ crimes after leaving Boston were much worse than jumping on the back of a police horse in the Bronx.