Last night was a Nifty night at the Garden as the Boston Bruins retired Rick Middleton’s #16. Of course, every time this happens the debate comes up on who deserves to be up there so let’s go over each team and what numbers should be in the Rafters, the Fenway Facade or the Patriots Hall of Fame. I would like to note that the Red Sox and Patriots have a team Hall of Fame which is different than retired numbers. This does include active players
New England Patriots
#4 Adam Vinatieri: The Greatest Clutch kicker in NFL History who kicked the team to two Super Bowls. Also made the greatest kick in NFL History in the Tuck Rule Game. I know he’s spent most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, but I’m sorry #4 has to go up.
#12: Tom Brady: This one is not even debatable the greatest QB that has ever walked the planet. Five-Time Super Bowl Champion, Three-Time NFL MVP. #12 will never be worn again in Foxboro and a statue of him will be built outside the stadium.
#56: Andre Tippett: I typically heir on the side of Champions in this list but I will make special exceptions, and the Patriots prior to Bill Parcels arrival were really led by two great players, Tippett being one of them. One of the best linebackers of the ’80s and was an absolute force on the Patriots defense that went to the Super Bowl in 1985
#73: John Hannah: The other pre-Parcells player I will put up is Hannah, perhaps the greatest Offensive Linemen of all time and absolute force nobody got anywhere near the Patriots Quarterbacks of the ’70s. It wasn’t his fault the team was an absolute mess when he was here.
#87: Rob Gronkowski: The greatest Tight End of all time a two Time Super Bowl Champion the team has been to four in his career. I know this number is also attached to Ben Coates but it’s Gronk’s number it should never be worn again.
I’d also find some way to honor Bill Belichick and Gil Santos
#5: Kevin Garnett: I know he was only in Celtic green for six seasons but he won a Championship and restored Celtic pride. He’s an all-time great he’s a Hall of Famer he’s up there.
#6 Bill Russell: The first great Celtic, trailblazer for African Americans in Basketball. 11x NBA Champion the dominant player of his era.
#14 Bob Cousey: The man who made the NBA have to implement the shot clock an integral part of the Celtics early NBA dominance
#15 Tommy Heinsohn: I know Tommy wasn’t the greatest player but given everything he’s meant to the organization 8 Championships as a player, 2 as a coach, then a broadcaster for 4 more.
#17 John Havlicek: 8 time NBA Champion like Cousey an integral part of the early Celtics and produced the most famous play in NBA History
#18 Dave Cowens: The lead player of the two Championships in the ’70s.
#32 Kevin McHale: The 2nd best player on the 80’s Celtics Dynasty spent his whole career in Green
#33 Larry Bird: One of the greatest basketball players to ever walk the planet dazzling skill and led the Celtics to three Championships.
#34 Paul Pierce: Champion spent most of his career in Green stuck with the team through the tough times and was rewarded with a Championship.
Honor Red Auerbach and Johnny Most
(For the Red Sox and Bruins I am going to limit this to guys post-WWII)
Boston Red Sox
#6 Johnny Pesky: Not a hall of fame player but he spent so many years involved in the organization he deserves it.
#8 Carl Yastrzemski: This is another one of those non-Championship exceptions I’ll make. Yaz never won but he was one of the premier players in Major League Baseball for 20+ years and spent his whole career in Boston.
#9 Ted Williams: Another non-Championship exception Williams spent 22 years in a Red Sox uniform and 4.5 serving our country as a Marine. He’s the greatest hitter that ever lived and the last man to hit .400 in a season one of the premier players not only of his era but of all time.
#21 Roger Clemens: One last non-Championship exception the greatest pitcher of his era maybe the greatest of all time spent 12+ years in a Sox uniform.
#24 Manny Ramirez: Ramirez the greatest right-handed hitter of his era and the best free agent signing in baseball history. Two time Champion and really helped usher in the Red Sox Championship era the fact it’s been given out since his departure is a joke.
#34 David Ortiz: The most impactful Red Sox to ever wear the uniform was he a better player than Williams no of course not. Oritz not only won three times he helped turn Boston into a city of Champions nobody defined the Boston Championship era more than Ortiz, he played on three of the four Championship teams this century and was on the staff for the fourth.
#45 Pedro Martinez: The most dominant pitcher of his era at his peak they was maybe nobody better. Spent his peak in Boston in Cooperstown and won a Championship.
#4 Bobby Orr: The greatest hockey player to ever live despite only 10 years in Boston he won 8 Norris Trophies best defensemen in the league, 3-time league MVP, 2-time playoff MVP in just 10 years. No brainer
#7: Phil Esposito: Spent 8 years in a Bruins uniform, the greatest goal scorer of his era he’s top five all-time in almost every scoring stat.
#8 Cam Neely: Pro Hockey Hall of Famer one of the best players of his era epitomized everything Bruin and won as an Executive.
#9 Johnny Buyck: The man simply known as Cheif in the same class of Pesky and Heinshon deserves it because of his longevity of the team as player, coach, and now a staff member.
#33 Zdeno Chara: The Captain of the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship been with the team for 13 years he deserves it.
#37 Patrice Bergeron: Mr. Bruin of this era been with the team from the start of their career, won a Championship the number goes up
#77 Ray Bourque: One non-Championship exception for the Bruins he never won here, but he was the premier player in the league at his position spent over 20 years with the team never won through no fault of his own his number goes up.