Jim Ed Rice
Jim Rice is in the Hall.
So much has been written about Rice from the vantage point of looking back on his career. I have nothing to add to that. Instead, I prefer to write about Rice from the perspective of my 10 year-old self, back in 1978, at the peak of his greatness.
The number 14 jersey always got picked first in youth sports. Why? Pete Rose and Jim Rice.
I can’t shake the sound of Sherm Feller announcing his name: “Number 14, Jim Rice. Left field, Rice.” And as his serious, imposing figure walked to the plate, ripples of anticipation would shudder throughout Fenway and over the TV 38 airwaves.
His batting stance — along with Dewey’s and Yaz’s — was the most emulated in neighborhood wiffleball games. Elbows down, then the emphatic half-swings as he cocked his bat, the expression of a stern school principal on his face coupled with the aura of tiger about to maul a smaller foe.
The Southwest Airlines ads that have the tagline, “Wanna get away?” could just as easily have been created to describe the feeling that pitchers had when Rice stood at the plate.
We knew we had the best three outfielders in the American League – Rice, Lynn, and Evans — and Rice was the Big Daddy of that trio.
I have Jim Rice’s autograph on about five different Red Sox programs, all procured while he was a player. Why? Because he was out there all the time, signing autographs for kids. I don’t think I ever saw him smile or even speak while he signed — he did it like a machine — but he was out there, taking a break from the game to give something back to the fans.
87.4% of all children in New England had a poster of Jim Rice on their wall at some point between 1976 and 1987. We all wanted to play baseball like him.
When Bruce Springsteen played at Fenway about five years ago, I ran into Jim Rice outside Fenway Park. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him, and he happily obliged. While my friend was taking the photo, I remember saying, “Here I am, with Hall of Famer, Jim Rice,” and Rice immediately replied, “Hey, I like this guy,” smiled for the camera, shook my hand, and headed into Fenway.
Soon, the number 14 will join numbers 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 27, and 42 above the right field grandstands at Fenway Park. Where it belongs.
Oh, and the fact that Bert Blyleven was not elected to the Hall (again) is an utter travesty. And Sox fans can take pride in Henderson’s election too, since he ended his MLB career wearing the blue B cap….
What memories! I was only a couple of years younger then you in ’78 and I grew up in the Boston area. Rice and all his team mates made watching the Red Sox great! (TV 38!! Remember that!) I so look forward to the day that we see the #14 added to the right field wall. And yes, we are all proud of Rickey also. It’s a great day for Red Sox Nation!
We were the same age in the summer of 1978, and I know just what you mean. I haven’t met Rice yet, but even in tough economic times for myself and the country I’ll get to Cooperstown to see him inducted. Age 10 is around the time you not only imitate the swings of these guys, you also memorize the stats and which pitchers they like to hit against. For some reason I remember that Rice also hit triples circa 1978, 15 if I recall correctly. That really SHOULD have been a championship, along with 1986. And if Jim Rice was available to play in 1975 you may have seen another one. But, the team didn’t win then, and Rice didn’t hit quite .300 or get quite 400 HRs, etc, so we all had to sweat out a long wait for him to make the HOF.
I’ve heard some great stories about Rice and I’ve watched some great video footage of him. He was incredible wasn’t he? I’d really like to be in Boston on the day that his number is retired. I’d drive from Miami just to see it.
I am so happy for JIM RICE to get voted in. growing up as a kid I loved to watch number 14 play the outfield and swing the bat, I still remember the day the fan in Yankee stadium stole Jim’s Hat in the stands and Jim went right into the stands to get the hat back and have a few words with the guy, this was from Jim being such a hard nose baseball player and giving it all he had every single day. Now lets get RICK MILLER into the Red Sox hall of Fame. I want to start a campaign to help convince the Red Sox to let Rick be a member of their hall of fame as he was a such a hard working and aggressive player in his time with the red sox, 13 years total and was a great utility man besides being a great outfielder in his prime, a very kind a humble man and respected very highly be a great many he played with in his career…….Lets get Rick into the Red Sox Hall of Fame……
I already have my hotel room reserved for Cooperstown.
It’s going to be a great weekend up there. Good food, good friends, good Red Sox crowd. SEE YOU THERE!