BOSTON - I can't believe it. The last installment of the countdown is here! Where does the time go? It feels like just yesterday we were regaling Jason Varitek and now, it's time to explore the top five Red Sox players to ever don the Boston uniform.
5. Carlton Fisk
Fisk has the rare honor of having his number retired by both the Red Sox and the White Sox. A 2000 Hall of Fame inductee, Fisk was an All-Star seven times for Boston! He also was the 1972 Rookie of the Year. Few players have lived up to such immense promise as Fisk did over the years, even if he never lit up the big leagues like so many others. A veteran catcher across four different decades, Fisk will always be best remembered as the man who waved a home run fair during game six of the 1975 World Series. Not a bad legacy to have.
4. Carl Yastrzemski
The man they call Yaz. Carl Yastrzemski's legacy goes far beyond statistics. It exists beyond his twenty-two season Hall of Fame career, all with the Red Sox, mind you. His legacy is far more than his incredible 1967 Triple Crown season that saw him win MVP and play in the World Series. The legacy is vastly more than his eighteen All-Star selections and 3,419 career hits. His legacy is in his rise to prominence, culminating at the perfect time in franchise history. He brought a fanbase back from the brink with his "impossible dream." Perhaps no figure in Boston sports history is more influential than Yaz.
3. Pedro Martinez
The greatest pitcher to ever come out in red at Fenway Park. There's no denying his name is Pedro Martinez, one of the best throwers the game has ever seen. He bounced around the league a ton, granted. And his seasons in other uniforms (1992 to 1997 and 2005 to 2009) do outweigh his Boston tenure, granted. But from 1998 to 2004, Martinez was like no other. Whenever he pitched during his prime, there was no one in Boston watching anything else. In his career, he went 219-100 with a 2.93 earned run average and 3,154 strikeouts, but the best of those numbers came while in Boston. A Hall of Famer, a retired number holder, a three-time Cy Young winner for Boston, Pedro was absolutely electric. His 1999 Triple Crown season remains one of the greatest pitching feats of all-time.
2. David Ortiz
I went back and forth on if Big Papi should be one or two. No athlete has meant more to Boston than David Ortiz does, but at the end of the day, the fielding abilities put Williams over the top. After all, Ortiz was a designated hitter. But it's a testament to how great he was that he still snags the number two spot. Honestly, though, forget the slugging and the 2006 home run chase and the unprecedented 2013 post-season tear. There are only a few things you need to know about Big Papi and his three-time championship career. He had his number retired by Boston before making it to the Hall of Fame, an unprecedented achievement. He helped heal a city after the Boston Marathon bombings. And he is the most clutch athlete to ever play sports. He put the team on his back in 2004, 2007, and 2013. And we owe him so much. Thirteen seasons with the Red Sox and they could have gone on forever!
1. Ted Williams
But perhaps no Red Sox player is a greater example of lost time than Teddy Ballgame. I believe that if Ted Williams didn't miss three years of his career to serve in World War II, then he would be unanimously regarded as the greatest baseball player of all-time and the Red Sox would have won a World Series during the time period of 1943 to 1945. But let's not dwell on negatives and "what could have been." Look at what was! During his nineteen-year career with the Red Sox, he was an All-Star every time. He won the Triple Crown twice and the batting crown six times. He's the last player to ever hit over .400 and he was a Hall of Famer on the first ballot. He's a member of the MLB All-Time Team with a .482 on-base percentage for his career. That is still a record today. The late splendid splinter hit .344 in his career with 521 home runs. If there's any player I'd want to see play live, it's Williams. The best to ever do it at Fenway Park.
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