This late into the MLB season, it’s not uncommon for organizations and fans of teams out of the postseason race to be more focused on the coming offseason than the on-field result. But the Red Sox still have a few games to play at Fenway this season. And before the focus entirely shifts to the offseason, fans might want to take stock of some sights that are unlikely to be seen again in 2023.
Dennis Eckersley’s final games in the broadcasting booth.
The last series with the iconic John Hancock sign looming above centerfield.
What might be the last appearance of the Sox uniforms without jersey sponsorships.
And potentially the last time shortstop Xander Bogaerts takes the field with Red Sox across his chest.
All the above changes are either confirmed or have a significant chance of occurring as the Red Sox look to flip the calendar to 2023.
Eckersley announced in August that the 2022 season would be his last behind the microphone. Eckersley, a former All-Star pitcher with Boston, has spent the previous 20 years as part of NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts. Originally a studio analyst, the former pitcher became known for tossing out “Eckisms” and other bits of rich insight as the broadcast’s color commentator.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I really have,” the former Hall of Fame pitcher told The Boston Globe. “Not that it matters, but it’s kind of a round number, leaving. I started in pro ball in ‘72, when I was a 17-year-old kid right out of high school. Fifty years ago. And I’ve been with NESN for 20 years, even though it doesn’t feel like that because I didn’t do much my first four or five years. So it’s time.”
In July, John Hancock announced that the insurance giant would be parting ways with the Red Sox after the 2022 season by choosing to not renew their contract. As such, the iconic sign that Sox fans have grown used to illuminating countless playoff games, concerts and other events over the past 30 years will be coming down sometime this winter.
John Hancock’s departure clears the way for the Red Sox to reach a reported $170 million jersey patch deal with Mass Mutual. The reported 10-year-deal would be the richest jersey sponsorship for a team since MLB announced that teams would be able to sell space on their sleeves for advertisements last offseason. According to the Sports Business Journal report, the Red Sox have been tight-lipped on the deal due to John Hancock’s presence through the end of the year.
The San Diego Padres became the first team to formally announce their jersey sponsorship in April. MassMutual’s logo will presumably grace the sleeves of all Red Sox uniforms beginning next year and until at least 2033.
And of course, most Red Sox fans don’t need reminding that this may be the last time Xander Bogaerts takes the field at Fenway. After a tumultuous Spring Training contract negation carried into the start of the season without a deal, Sox fans have been prepared for the possibility of Bogaerts opting out of his $20 million 2023-player option and springing to another free agent destination. The 29-year-old shortstop entered this past weekend with a .309 batting average, a .836 OPS and was named an All-Star for the fourth time in his career.
While there is some hope player and club may yet agree on a deal, there’s a very real chance the longest tenured Red Sox and only holdover from the 2013 World Series championship team is wearing another uniform next year.
After missing the start of the series due to back tightness, there’s even a possibility that Bogaerts has already played his last game at Fenway.
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