After two years of existence, no one would have imagined that the Tampa Bay Rays would be retiring anyone’s number, excluding Jackie Robinson. However, on this day in 2000, the Rays retired Wade Boggs‘ number 12.
In the year 2000, the Tampa Bay Rays had been around for exactly two seasons. It was not exactly a long stretch of time by any imagination, but the Rays still had their historic moments. Of course, the majority of those came from Wade Boggs, who hit the first home run in team history, and recorded his 3000th hit as a Ray, using another home run for the milestone.
Even though Boggs retired at the end of the 1999 campaign, he was still a key part of Rays history. And so, despite just two years in Tampa Bay, the Rays decided to retire his number 12. That ceremony occurred on this day in 2000, as Boggs became the first player in team history to have his number retired.
As great as Boggs was during his career, there is no denying that the was not the same player during his time in Tampa Bay. Overall, he produced a .289/.360/.391 batting line. He was a solid enough player, but he was not the Hall of Fame talent by the time he joined the Rays as a free agent.
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However, retiring Boggs number was about more than the on field production. He was a solid veteran presence, someone that helped bring some legitimacy to the expansion franchise. Boggs also grew up in the Tampa Bay area, and resided there in the offseason, becoming the first hometown star for the franchise.
Boggs came back to the team for one more stint after his retirement. In 2001, he served as the Rays hitting coach, before again disappearing into private life.
There was also a bit of controversy involving Boggs when it came time for his induction into the Hall of Fame. He wanted to go into the Hall wearing a Rays cap, and speculation that he was being paid to do so began to circulate. In light of those accusations, which Boggs vehemently denied, the Hall decreed that they would make the determination about which cap the player would be enshrined with. As such, Boggs is depicted wearing a Red Sox hat, despite his strained relationship with the franchise.
Typically, two years is not enough time for a player to have their number retired by a franchise. In Wade Boggs’ case, those two years with the Tampa Bay Rays were rather historic.