I would put the number 41 for Tom Seaver on the back of my Red Sox jersey except that I don’t want anyone to ask me, “Why the hell are you wearing a John Lackey jersey???”
Seaver finished his career with the Red Sox in 1986. He started only 16 games for them after a midseason trade from the White Sox. Though his record for Boston was 5-7 he did post a 3.80 ERA and a 1.9 WAR while helping the Red Sox to clinch the AL East division before a knee injury ended his career. Were it not for that injury Seaver probably would have started Game 4 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets instead of Al Freakin' Nipper, who managed a Lackey-esque season ERA of 5.38. Nipper didn't pitch horribly (6 IP, 3 ER, 7H, 2K, 1 BB, 1HR), but the Mets did win 6-2 to send the series back to Shea Stadium tied at two games apiece. Oh what might have been.
If you get a chance to watch MLB Networks 1986: A Postseason to Remember, you will hear Bruce Hurst talk about how much he enjoyed Seaver’s presence and insight during the 1986 World Series.
So what number would I put on the back of my Red Sox jersey? I would go with either Ted Williams’ 9 or Carl Yastrzemski’s 8, though the Rocket’s 21 or Pedro’s 45 would look good there too.
Photo credits: Jacoby Ellsbury, by Jim McIsaac/Getty Jon Lester, by Elise Amendola/AP Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski, AP Photo