Of all the great players that have worn a Red Sox uniform, only seven men have earned the honor to have their uniform number retired by Boston. Besides Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Johnny Pesky (6), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9), Jim Rice (14), and Carlton Fisk (27) have all witnessed their numbers posted on the right field façade above the right field grandstand.
Originally, the team placed the numbers in the order they were retired; after Yastzemski was honored in 1989, the sequence went 9-4-1-8. Later, someone pointed out that the sequence might be interpreted as September 4, 1918 – the day before the first game of the 1918 World Series, which witnessed the last world championship won by Boston before they finally tasted victory again in 2004. This change was made following the retirement of Fisk’s number 27.
The Red Sox employ a rather strict policy on retiring uniform numbers; to be considered, you need first to have played a minimum of ten years with the team and you must also be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At one point, there was also a requirement in place that a player had to finish his career with the Red Sox, but that rule was dropped after Fisk was elected to the Hall in 2000. The Red Sox also abandoned its policy with the retirement of Pesky’s number; although he did not meet any of the required criteria, having played only eight of his 10 seasons in the majors with Boston and not qualifying for the Hall of Fame, management felt that his long years of service with the club, including time spent as a coach and manager, were enough to bestow the honor upon him.
One noteable player whose number has not been retired by the club is former third baseman Wade Boggs, who played 11 seasons with Boston and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Although no player has worn number 26 since the 2004 season, no announcement has been made as to whether he will receive this honor.