Reflecting on a Red Sox legend

Back to Article
Back to Article

Reflecting on a Red Sox legend

David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Where can you even begin? Major League Baseball said goodbye to a legend this month and, no matter which team you may be rooting for, he will be missed throughout the league.

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, aka Big Papi, played his final MLB postseason game on Monday, Oct. 10, against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park.

Over the years, Ortiz easily became a fan favorite for not only Sox fans but also many around the league. During his time with the Sox, he simply held a lovable sense of character as well as a very popular and useful knack for hitting home runs.

Ortiz got his start in Boston following the 2002 MLB season. The Red Sox were in the market for someone who they could play in both the designated hitter and first baseman positions. They were presented with nine candidates for the spot. Ortiz was struggling with the Minnesota Twins at the time, but former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez played a big role in showing Ortiz to the team’s general manager, Theo Epstein, and President Larry Luccino.

The Red Sox didn’t decide to invite Ortiz to their spring training for the 2003 season until January, when Luccino was approached by Martinez asking them to take a look at Ortiz. At this point, the Red Sox still didn’t look at Ortiz as someone that they even needed.

Ortiz and Martinez were close, and Martinez started telling many people that were associated with the Red Sox that they should simply start talking about Ortiz.

Ortiz noted in an interview with ESPN, “All I know is that one day right in front of me, Pedro called Larry and told him to sign me. Pedro made it happen.” This conversation ended up being the pivot point that brought Ortiz to the Red Sox for the 2003 season.

Following spring training, Ortiz was left on the bench. The FB position was left for Kevin Millar and DH spot for Jeremy Giambi once the regular season came around. Following some push from Millar, Ortiz told his agent to let the Sox know that if he didn’t receive playing time on a more regular basis he wanted to be traded.

The Red Sox then made a quick trade and moved Ortiz to the full-time DH position, and the rest became history. Ortiz ended up finishing off the 2003 regular season with 31 home runs and 101 runs batted in.

To go along with Ortiz’s big at-bat performances season after season, Ortiz’s nickname “Big Papi” was created by his teammates. Ortiz was known for calling people “Papi” early on in his Red Sox career, mainly when he couldn’t remember their names. In turn, teammates soon started calling Ortiz the name that every Boston fan is aware of: “Big Papi.” The word “Papi” is both a piece of Spanish slang that is used to refer to attractive males and the Spanish word for daddy.

Over his 13-year professional career with the Red Sox, Ortiz simply became the guy that everybody loved to see at the plate. The Red Sox held host to all of Ortiz’s career highs, starting with his record 148 RBI season in 2005, which was accompanied with 47 HRs, to his career high 54 HR season in 2006 accompanied with 137 RBIs. Many will now argue that his third greatest statistical season just ended, where he hit 38 HR and once again had 137 RBIs.

Moving into some personal postseason accomplishments, with his 59 World Series at plate appearances, Ortiz finished his career being fourth all-time in World Series batting averages, second in World Series for on base percentage, and fifth for World Series slugging percentage.

Ortiz ended his career with some noticeable cumulative hitting statistics. With his 8,640 at-bat appearances, he rounded to touch home plate 1,419 times and had 472 hits, 541 HRs and 1,768 RBIs, and ended with a career batting average of .286.

All of Boston, as well as many throughout Major League Baseball, will surely miss seeing the number 34 walk up to the plate. The Red Sox respectfully decided to retire Ortiz’s number. It will sit above Fenway Park’s right field grandstands next to the MLB-wide retired number 42 of Jackie Robinson and Red Sox retired Ted Williams 9, Joe Cronin 4, Bobby Doerr 1, Carl Yastrzemski 8, Carlton Fisk 27, Johnny Pesky 6, Jim Rice 14, Pedro Martinez 45 and Wade Boggs 26.

Now that Ortiz is officially off of the Red Sox roster, the team needs to decide how they would like to replace him for next season. Should they pay big money for a free agent replacement? Or should they move Hanley Ramirez from first base to a full-time DH?

This will surely be one of the top priorities for the Red Sox this offseason, as the legend that wore the number 34 is sure to prove to be irreplaceable on many levels.