David Ortiz’s Legendary Career Enters its Final Inning
by James Oh on Friday, May 13th, 2016
David Ortiz, no stranger to the media, recently made headlines for commenting on Tom Brady’s four game suspension. Ortiz told sports station WEEI: “You’re not just talking about any football player. You’re talking about probably the best player in the game, so what is the message you’re sending? I don’t think the message they’re sending is good. They want to send a strong message to who? The NFL players? How about the fans. What we think of it doesn’t matter?” However, Big Papi is not famous just for his outspoken remarks in the media; he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the Boston Red Sox’s greatest clutch hitters. At the end of this season, David Ortiz will retire from Major League Baseball and leave a lasting legacy as one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors.
David Ortiz, nicknamed “Big Papi,” is a designated hitter that occasionally plays first base for the Boston Red Sox, but you probably already know that. In his illustrious career, Big Papi’s notable achievements include six American League Silver Slugger awards, three 40-home run seasons, and the 2013 World Series MVP.
Despite his rare status as a sure-fire Hall Of Famer, David Ortiz’s journey in the MLB hasn’t been smooth. Originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an undrafted free agent in 1992, the team released him soon after. He didn’t step up to the plate until five seasons later as the designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins in 1997. In 1999, David Ortiz went 0 for 20 and struck out 12 times; such a disastrous season almost ended his career. Nonetheless, Ortiz saved his baseball career by exuding more confidence at the plate during the next season. Although Ortiz drastically improved his batting, he was released — in a now famous move — by the Twins after the 2002 season. Apparently his 75 RBI’s along with 20 home runs couldn’t conceal his lack of defensive production.
The Boston Red Sox, who saw untapped potential in David Ortiz, subsequently signed him as a free agent on January 22, 2003 — never did the Red Sox know that it would be one of the greatest signings in franchise history. After joining the Red Sox, Ortiz gradually built his reputation as a hitter. John W. Henry, the owner of the Red Sox, even called him “the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox” and complimented Ortiz for his postseason heroics. Only two years after coming to Boston, Ortiz, earning the nickname “Big Papi” with his slugging, finished second behind only Alex Rodriguez in the 2005 American League MVP vote.
Sadly for Boston sports fans, Big Papi — after gracing the big leagues for 17 seasons — is moving on from baseball at the end of this season. Even more impressive than his mindblowing accomplishments on the field are his great sportsmanship and generous heart. Very few athletes have invested close to as much time and money in good causes. Ortiz donates money, attention, and time to charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Jimmy Fund, and his very own David Ortiz Children’s Fund — both in Boston and in the Dominican Republic. All his community work earned him the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s highest honor for charitable players, in 2011.
David Ortiz is one of baseball’s biggest names and our generation is lucky to have seen Big Papi play. None can rival his unique combination of strength, accuracy, and intelligence on the field. He has performed best on the world’s biggest stage multiple times, and his two walk-off home runs in the 2004 American League playoffs will forever rank among the greatest moments in Boston sports history. Although Big Papi is now 40 years old and his career is nearing its end, one thing is for sure, baseball will miss Big Papi.
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