As the Boston Red Sox celebrated the greatest player in franchise history -- more on him in a minute -- at the 1999 MLB All-Star Game, the player that fans at Fenway Park were most excited to see play at the final midsummer classic of the 20th century was Nomar Garciaparra.
After winning the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year Award and finishing runner-up to Juan González in AL MVP voting in 1998, Garciaparra edged out Derek Jeter to be the starting shortstop at what turned out to be arguably the most memorable All-Star Game ever played.
Garciaparra went 0-2 in the All-Star Game, but it was one of the few times in 1999 that he didn't turn in a monster performance. A shortstop often compared and contrasted with Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Garciaparra won his first of back-to-back AL batting titles in 1999.
Despite hitting .357 in 1999, Garciaparra only finished seventh in AL MVP voting, though at least three of the players above him have connections to performance-enhancing drugs. Garciaparra would hit .372 in 2000, but finished ninth in AL MVP voting. Had he played in an era where a slew of the game's best players weren't using PEDs, Garciaparra may very well have won back-to-back MVPs in 1999 and 2000.
And even though injuries robbed Garciaparra from having the longevity that Jeter and Rodriguez had, he made five All-Star teams during his time in Boston. For many franchises, Garciaparra's peak would have been enough to put him on this list in some form.
However, the Red Sox are one of baseball's most storied teams. Not only was Garciaparra left off this list, but so were Dwight Evans, Babe Ruth, Mookie Betts, Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Lefty Grove, Carlton Fisk and Dustin Pedroia, among others.
That gives you an idea of how exclusive our countdown of the nine greatest players in Red Sox history is:
9. Manny Ramírez (2001-2008)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 2003 - .325/.427/.587 with 37 home runs, 104 RBIs, 97 walks, 1.014 OPS, 160 OPS+ and 5.8 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs, 868 RBIs, 636 walks, 1,232 hits, .999 OPS, 155 OPS+ and 29.6 fWAR
Ramírez became a star during parts of eight seasons in Cleveland, but Manny became Manny after signing an eight-year/$160 million free-agent deal with the Red Sox ahead of the 2001 season. During seven-and-a-half seasons with the Red Sox, Ramírez made eight All-Star teams and slugged 274 home runs. What put Ramírez on this list over some other worthy candidates were his postseason heroics, as he hit 11 of his MLB record 29 postseason home runs during his time with the Red Sox. Ramírez helped the Red Sox to break the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, and won a second World Series title with the team in 2007.
8. Tris Speaker (1907-1915)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1912 - .383/.464/.567 with 10 home runs, 90 RBIs, 82 walks, 1.031 OPS, 190 OPS+ and a 10.6 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .337/.414/.482 with 39 home runs, 542 RBIs, 459 walks, 1,327 hits, .896 OPS, 166 OPS+ and 54.5 fWAR
Speaker spent the first nine years of his Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox, with his most notable campaign coming in 1912, when he became the first player in franchise history to win MVP during what was Fenway Park's inaugural season. But while things would even out nearly 100 years later when the Red Sox signed the aforementioned Ramírez away from Cleveland, Boston made their second worst transaction of the decade when they traded Speaker to a franchise then called the Indians ahead of the 1916 season. Speaker would go on to spend 11 years in Cleveland, leading the American League in doubles on six occasions.
7. David Ortiz (2003-2016)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 2006 - .287/.413/.636 with 54 home runs, 137 RBIs, 119 walks, 1.049 OPS, 161 OPS+ and 5.3 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .290/.386/.570 with 483 home runs, 1,530 RBIs, 1,133 walks, 2,079 hits, .956 OPS, 148 OPS+ and 48.8 fWAR
Perhaps the most popular player in franchise history, Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star and seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner during his 14 years with the Red Sox. "Big Papi" hit 483 of his 541 career home runs as a Red Sox, putting him second in franchise history in the category. Like his long-time teammate Ramírez, Ortiz was one of the greatest postseason hitters of all-time, as he homered 17 times in the postseason with the Red Sox. Ortiz was the ALCS MVP in 2004, the World Series MVP in 2013 and helped the Red Sox to win three World Series titles (2004, 2007 & 2013) during his decorated career. He was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2022, and will go into Cooperstown with a Red Sox cap on his plaque.
6. Wade Boggs (1982-1992)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1987 - .363/.461/.588 with 24 home runs, 89 RBIs, 105 walks, 1.049 OPS, 174 OPS+ and an 8.9 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .338/.428/.462 with 85 home runs, 687 RBIs, 1,004 walks, 2,098 hits, .890 OPS, 142 OPS+ and 70.7 fWAR
One of the greatest third basemen in MLB history, Boggs spent his entire career playing in the American League East, with his first 11 seasons coming in Boston. As a Red Sox, Boggs hit .300 or better 10 times, winning batting titles in five different seasons (1983, 1985, 1986, 1987 & 1988). Boggs -- who won six Silver Slugger Awards as a Red Sox -- also led the league in on-base percentage, OPS, walks, doubles and runs scored on at least two occasions during his time in Boston. Boggs was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005, and his plaque features him wearing a Red Sox cap.
5. Cy Young (1901-1908)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1901 - 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA, 219 ERA+, 2.64 FIP, 0.972 WHIP, 158 strikeouts, 38 complete games and a 7.8 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: 192-112 with a 2.00 ERA, 147 ERA+, 2.08 FIP, 0.970 WHIP, 1,341 strikeouts, 275 complete games and 54.9 fWAR
It's a tough world when the most coveted award for your position is named after you, but you're only considered the third best pitcher in franchise history. With that said, Young did spend the largest chunk of his career with the Cleveland Spiders, and when you consider the names above him, being at No. 5 is more indicative of some of the greatest pitchers in the history of the sport having played for the Red Sox. Still, Young is tied for the all-time lead among Red Sox pitchers in wins (192) and complete-game shutouts (38), while maintaining sole possession of the top marks in franchise history in terms of WHIP (0.970), FIP (2.08) and complete games (275). For many franchises, Young would be No. 1 overall, not just among pitchers.
4. Pedro Martínez (1998-2004)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1999 - 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA, 243 ERA+, 1.39 FIP, 0.923 WHIP, 313 strikeouts, five complete games and an 11.6 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA, 190 ERA+, 2.45 FIP, 0.978 WHIP, 1,683 strikeouts, 22 complete games and 51.9 fWAR
Martínez was traded to the Red Sox by the Montreal Expos ahead of the 1998 season, after winning the National League Cy Young Award in the prior campaign. All that Martínez would do in his seven seasons in Boston was put together one of the greatest peaks in MLB history, finishing in the top four in American League Cy Young voting on six occasions, winning the award in 1999 and 2000. Mind you, Martínez was putting together these all-time seasons at the same time that many hitters are believed to have been using performance-enhancing drugs. While others spent longer in Boston, Martínez was so dominant in his time there that his No. 45 was retired by the Red Sox in July of 2015, a month before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with their hat on his plaque.
3. Roger Clemens (1984-1996)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1986 - 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA, 169 ERA+, 2.81 FIP, 0.969 WHIP, 238 strikeouts, 10 complete games and a 7.1 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: 192-111 with a 3.06 ERA, 144 ERA+, 2.94 FIP, 1.158 WHIP, 2,590 strikeouts, 100 complete games and 76.9 fWAR
Clemens would go on to win Cy Young Awards as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros, but the largest chunk of his record seven Cy Youngs came during his 13 seasons in Boston. "The Rocket" won the American League Cy Young Award in 1986, 1987 and 1991 as a member of the Red Sox, and also added the AL MVP in 1986. As a Red Sox, Clemens won the junior circuit's ERA title on four occasions (1986, 1990, 1991 & 1992). Clemens also had two 20-strikeout games during his time with Boston, making him the only pitcher in MLB history to accomplish the feat multiple times. Connections to performance-enhancing drugs have kept Clemens out of the Hall of Fame to this point, but he's unquestionably one of the greatest right-handed pitchers ever.
2. Carl Yastrzemski (1961-1983)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1967 - .326/.418/.622 with 44 home runs, 121 RBIs, 91 walks, 1.040 OPS, 193 OPS+ and an 11.1 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .285/.379/.462 with 452 home runs, 1,844 RBIs, 1,845 walks, 3,419 hits, .841 OPS, 130 OPS+ and 94.8 fWAR
Yastrzemski is the second greatest left fielder in Red Sox history, and in our estimation, also just the second greatest player in the history of a franchise that began play in 1901. "Yaz" spent all 23 years of his Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox, making 18 All-Star teams, while winning seven Gold Gloves and three American League batting titles. In 1967, Yastrzemski won both the AL MVP and Triple Crown. Yastrzemski is the all-time leader among Red Sox in runs scored (1,816), hits (3,419), singles (2,262), doubles (646), extra-base hits (1,157), RBIs (1,844), times on base (5,304) and sacrifice flies (105). His No. 8 was retired by the Red Sox in 1989.
1. Ted Williams (1939-1942; 1946-1960)
Best Season With The Red Sox: 1941 - .406/.553/.735 with 37 home runs, 120 RBIs, 147 walks, 1.287 OPS, 235 OPS+ and an 11.0 fWAR
Career Stats With The Red Sox: .344/.482/.634 with 521 home runs, 1,839 RBIs, 2,021 walks, 2,654 hits, 1.116 OPS, 191 OPS+ and 130.4 fWAR
Despite losing his age-24 through age-26 seasons due to service in World War II, Williams may have achieved his dream of being "the greatest hitter who ever lived." Williams won six American League batting titles, including when he hit .406 in 1941, a single-season mark that seemingly won't ever be approached again. "Teddy Ballgame" also led the AL in on-base percentage in 12 different seasons, and his .482 career on-base percentage is best in MLB history. While there's a debate to be had about whether Williams or Barry Bonds is the greatest left fielder of all time, it's pretty clear that the 1966 Hall of Fame inductee is the best player to ever suit up for the Red Sox.