The Bristol Blues announced Tuesday they will retire the No. 26 worn by former Bristol Red Sox first baseman Jack Baker in a pre-game ceremony August 2nd.
Baker played for the Bristol Red Sox, a minor league affiliate for the Boston Red Sox in the Eastern League, from 1974-1976. His number will join the other retired numbers of Baseball Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (No. 3) and Jim Rice (No. 14).
Mr. Baker’s is being honored for his sharp single to left field off Lance Rautzhan of the Waterbury Giants on June 27, 1974. His hit in the first inning plated Al Ryan and would be the only run the BriSox scored all night in a 3-1 loss before 783 fans at Muzzy Field on Beer Night.
According to Blues General Manager Brian Rooney, “Why should only great players be honored? Do you know how hard it is to be ‘okay?’ It is about time someone was recognized for being good or decent or for being just another player.”
Unlike Babe Ruth’s No. 3 which is on the right field fence and Jim Rice’s No. 14 which is on the left field fence, Jack Baker’s No. 26 will have a marker just beyond the third base bag where it is believed the ball landed on its way to the left fielder. “It might get in the way but I think players will adjust,” Rooney told Boardman.
Al Ryan will be on hand for the ceremony and to sign autographs and so will Niles Bradley who sat along the first base line that night. Mr. Bradley recalls the base hit even though he admits, “I was a little tipsy on some Schaeffer [Beer].”
Next season the Blues will continue the tradition of retiring numbers, and retire Hayden Bozak’s No. 12. Who is Hayden Bozak? In the 1970s Mr. Bozak could best be described as a mediocre utility player for the Eagles in the Monahan League, a recreation baseball league for Bristol youths aged 15 and above. He mostly sat the bench and as a result quit midway through his second season because he got a job at Larson’s Farm picking corn. “There are a ton of those guys whose baseball dreams were crushed for a lack of playing time, and we feel they need to acknowledged as well,” Rooney said.