Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz bashed two home runs in the same game against the Tampa Bay Rays to reach 500 for his career.
Reaching 500 home runs is a milestone that all power-hitting sluggers aspire for. Few have celebrated the achievement while wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform but the most recent occasion was a memorable one. It came back in 2015 when David Ortiz bashed a pair of home runs in Tampa Bay to join the 500 club.
Boston pounced on the Rays early, putting a pair of runners on base ahead of Ortiz in the top of the first inning. Rays starter Matt Moore showed Ortiz four straight low-90s fastballs, the last of which wasn’t fooling anyway. It was right over the middle of the plate on a 1-2 count and Ortiz hammered it deep to right field to put the Red Sox on the board with a 3-0 lead.
That three-run homer was No. 499 for Big Papi’s career. He wouldn’t wait around long to add one more.
The Red Sox held a commanding 7-0 lead when Ortiz stepped to the plate to lead off the fifth inning. This night was about far more than a single regular season game though, this was about being immortalized in baseball history.
Moore tried to throw Ortiz off by mixing in a few curveballs this time but the result wasn’t any better. The lefty tried to sneak a curve in low and inside. Big mistake. Ortiz crushed it 428 feet to right field, falling just short of the second deck at Tropicana Field.
Everyone knew it was gone from the moment it left the bat. Ortiz paused briefly to admire his work before triumphantly trotting around the bases.
Boston’s dugout emptied to greet Ortiz as he strolled across home plate. The game was put on hold for a solid two minutes while Big Papi celebrated with a hug from each of his teammates.
The moment would have been amplified if he had done it at Fenway Park but Ortiz got quite an ovation from fans in Tampa Bay. The Rays have historically struggled to draw fans so their games often have a fair amount cheering for the opposing team. There were plenty of Red Sox fans at this game but even the Rays fans in attendance had to recognize the significance of what they were witnessing.
Ortiz became the 27th member of the 500 home run club. No other major league hitter has reached the milestone since.
It was the 50th multi-homer game of Ortiz’s career. He joined Albert Pujols as the only players to hit No. 499 and 500 in the same game. Pujols joined the club in 2014 and he’s the only active member of the 500 home run club.
Ortiz was the first player to hit his 500th home run in a Red Sox uniform since Manny Ramirez in May, 2008. The Red Sox traded Manny to the Los Angeles Dodgers two months later.
Jimmie Foxx hit more than half of his 534 career home runs with Philadelphia but his 500th came as a member of the Red Sox in 1940. The Beast bashed 222 home runs in seven season with the Red Sox. The 50 home runs he hit in 1938 stood as the Red Sox single-season record until Ortiz broke it with 54 homers in 2006.
Ted Williams, of course, hit all 521 of his home runs with the Red Sox, the most in franchise history. Ortiz finished his career with 541 home runs. 483 were collected during his time in Boston, placing him second in franchise history.
Teddy Ballgame may have the highest total with the team but Ortiz is the best home run hitter that Red Sox have ever had. Few former Red Sox hitters have hit more in their entire career than Ortiz did and none of them had a higher single-season peak in Boston. Nobody was more clutch than Big Papi and his library full of memorable moments.
His 500th home run was one of those special memories. Ortiz would finish that 2015 season with 37 home runs, his fourth-highest total in a season to that point in his career and the most he had hit since setting the single-season franchise record nearly a decade earlier.
Big Papi would go out in style the following season, the last of his prolific career at the age of 40. Ortiz hit 38 homers during his farewell tour in 2016 while leading the league in doubles, RBI, slugging and OPS.
That final push at the end of his career moved Ortiz up to 17th on the all-time home run list. It’s going to be a while before the Red Sox celebrate another member of the 500 home run club but the memories of Ortiz will still remain.