Red Sox Nation saw David Ortiz’s number 34 retired during a pre-game ceremony Friday night. His number retirement came eight months after his actual retirement. It also marked the third time the Red Sox retired a number in as many years. So are the Red Sox retiring jersey numbers too soon?
Three years ago I thought it was strange that the Red Sox hadn’t retired many numbers with its long and rich history. In fact, they only started the practice in the early 1980s. Before 2015 the Red Sox had only seven retired numbers. Since 2015 they’ve retired three. In fact, the Red Sox broke their own jersey retirement rules to induct the last three. So what does this mean? Are they trying to play catch up, or are they trying to make up lost revenue?
Is Attendance A Factor In The Decision To Retire Numbers?
According to Baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox averaged 3,008,355 fans per season between 2007 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2016 the Red Sox averaged 2,930,739 fans each season. That’s a drop off of 77,616 over three years. According to an April 2016 article on Fortune.com titled “Here’s How Much a Baseball Game Will Cost You This Year,” it costs a fan about $78.50 to attend a game at Fenway Park in 2016. That includes tickets, food, beverages, and parking. So let’s say for argument’s sake that the 77,616 drop in attendance equates to a loss of $78.50 per fan. That comes to a loss of $6,092,856 over three years. Of course, it’s easy to manipulate those numbers, but no matter how you crunch them it’s bad for the Red Sox.
Seeing The Red Sox Retiring Boggs’ Number Was A Little Awkward
It made sense to retire Pedro Martinez’s number. He helped carry the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004. But Wade Boggs? Yes, his time with the Red Sox made him a legend. But Boggs left Boston for New York where he won his only World Series Championship in 1998. In fact, he wore his Yankee World Series ring to his jersey retirement ceremony at Fenway Park much to the irk of many. While fans liked seeing the much-beloved Boggs’ number retired, it made other wonder why now? Why him? Was it an effort to bring older fans back to the ballgame so they could reignite their love for the game? Was it an effort to get its younger fanbase to tap into the rich history of the Red Sox? No matter how you dice it retiring Boggs’ number came off as awkward.
Are the Red Sox Retiring Numbers Too Soon?
So are the Red Sox retiring numbers too soon, or are they truly trying to honor their legends? Or are they trying to make up for lost revenue? The Red Sox have a staggering payroll and losing $6 million equates to about six or seven of their players making between $500-600,000 a year. No matter how you look at it, the frequency in retiring numbers does give true fans pause about how sincere the intentions are.