The first time I ever came close to entertaining the notion of rocking a Boston Red Sox jersey was when Mo Vaughn wore number 42 for them in the mid '90s. Entertaining was as far as it would get, though I have to admit after visiting Fenway Park in the summer of 1999, and browsing through the gear shops across the way from the stadium, the Sox have some great stuff to wear. But let's be real: Me Hatfield, them McCoy. It's never going to happen.
But if it were, I'd still probably choose to rock Mo's number 42. I thought he was a great player up there, and a terrific part of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. He was also the first black player to be truly embraced in Boston without apologies (and I'm not counting Tiant because he was Latin). No small feat, indeed. By the time he arrived in New York to play with the Mets, Vaughn's career had been unfortunately reduced to a series of fat jokes. I could never get with that, and was sorry to see such a promising career hit the skids so quickly after he left Boston.
I'm sure I linked Ben Jacobs' appreciation of Vaughn a few weeks ago, but if I didn't, here it is again. Gordon Edes also had a nice piece on Vaughn in his Notes column in The Globe last weekend. Despite his ugly departure from New England, and his rapid decline, Vaughn remains a fan favorite in Red Sox Nation. And that's the way it should be.