If you played word association with a Red Sox fan and said the word "Twenty-seven" the most likely reply would be "Carlton Fisk". Back in 2000 the new Red Sox ownership group retired Fisk's 27 (Fisk wore 72 when he went to the White Sox as a free agent in 1981). It was a very good PR move as Fisk remains very popular among New Englanders. It also helped heal an old wound. Fisk never should have been allowed to leave in the first place. The old ownership screwed the pooch on that one and the relationship turned contentious. The old ownership waited a whole year before handing out Fisk's 27 to the immortal Mike Brown. Including Brown - 9 other players wore 27 after Fisk left.
I don't have a problem with the Red Sox retiring Fisk's number. He was a local icon. He won the Rookie of the Year and was a 7-time all-star in his 9 full seasons with Boston. I would have issues if the Red Sox wanted to retire the number 26 though.
That number once belonged to Wade Boggs. However, since Boggs left to play for the Yankees 11 players have donned a 26 jersey. The circumstances between Fisk leaving and Boggs leaving were completely different (especially in the mind of fans - no way Fisk ever even thinks of playing for the Yankees). To understand why this is significant consider that when Jim Rice retired - the Red Sox never gave out his number 14 ever again.
Back in June of 2005, Peter Gammons wrote in his ESPN column:
This summer, the number 26 will be retired in Fenway Park and put up on the roof with 1, 4, 8, 9 and 27.Well it's been more than 6-years and that hasn't happened. And it won't happen. Nobody is out there complaining that Boggs hasn't had his number retired. In fact I think if you asked the average fan they would have a hard time remembering what number Boggs wore. When Boggs played it all about him. His stats, his talking about himself in the third person, his Barbara Walters appearances. Is it any surprise that the only one to care about Boggs at this point is probably Boggs? Personally - I hope to see someone wearing the number 26 next spring training.
As an aside - many people think Carlton Fisk is from New Hampshire and that's understandable since he's lived much of his life in the Live Free or Die state but he was actually born in Bellows Falls, VT. I mention this as a way to bring up the recent damage in the state from Hurricane Irene. If I were President I would redirect all the money that the Department of Transportation is going to waste on "high speed rail" projects and immediately send it to repair the destroyed roads in Vermont. I think if you looked at the pictures I linked to - you'd probably agree.