Red Sox Memories: Celebrating David Ortiz on his 45th birthday

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 1: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox waves to fans before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on October 1, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 1: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox waves to fans before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on October 1, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Red Sox legend David Ortiz turns 45 years old!

Happy birthday, David Ortiz! The Red Sox legend turns 45 years old today and it just makes sense to use this occasion to celebrate his tenure in Boston. It’s wild to think that the man with the ultimate clutch gene is only 45 when it feels like he walked away from the game ages ago. Then again, we’re in November, and 2020 has felt like an entire damn decade.

Seriously though, when Ortiz arrived ahead of the 2003 season he was coming in as a 26-year-old that showed some promise at the plate but hadn’t quite found his stride. Once he made his way to Fenway Park though, all bets were off and the tall tale of Big Papi began to be written. It’s hard to narrow down his time with the Red Sox into glimpses and flashes, mainly because he has too many to compile. That’s the thing about David, though, he’s more than just moments, his time in Boston is all-encompassing.

It wasn’t just his October heroics year after year, or the speech he delivered after the Boston Marathon bombings, it was every small thing he did in between those big moments. There haven’t been many that have embraced this city and team in the way that Ortiz did upon his arrival. From the moment he came over from Minnesota you would’ve thought that he had been drafted by the Red Sox and spent his entire career with the club.

Then again, it’s pretty damn fun to look back through his time with the team and watch the highlights on YouTube. Seriously, if you’ve got a free afternoon just throw his name into the search bar and let it ride. The big lefty will go down as one of the greatest designated hitters in the game and will eventually find his way to Cooperstown when the time comes. It’s hard to deny a 10x All-Star, 7x Silver Slugger, 3x World Champion, 1x ALCS MVP, and 1x WS MVP entry into the hallowed Hall.

For me, the first memories that come to mind when I think of Papi are all linked to that 2004 ALCS. We needed a lot of guys to come through at very specific times for the greatest comeback in sports to happen, and he was the biggest gear in the machine. As much as we needed the guys ahead of him to get on and work the opposing pitchers, Red Sox Nation needed Ortiz to do what he did best, come through in the clutch.

For as much as Ortiz came through during the regular season when that calendar flipped to October, he became Superman. As I mentioned above though, Big Papi is Boston, and always will be. When the Red Sox took the field for the first time at Fenway Park after the bombings there was only one person that could take that microphone, Papi. With a mixture of confidence and emotion in his voice, he let the world know that “This is our F-ing city!”

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If he hadn’t already stamped his place in Boston’s history, he sure as hell did it that afternoon. When Ortiz was shot while in the Dominican Republic it was breaking news and everyone began refreshing for the latest news. The Red Sox didn’t sit idly by with their thoughts and prayers and did everything in their abilities to bring Ortiz home to Boston to receive his care and rehab.

Again, he’s not just a baseball player, he’s a member of this organization, this city, and may as well be a friend to us all.

That’s the energy he’s always had and will always have, that he’s one of us. Some star athletes will instantly forget where they came from and put themselves on a pedestal, not Ortiz. It never mattered how much money was in his bank account, how many homers he hit that season, or how well the Red Sox performed, he was one of us. It feels like yesterday that he announced that he was stepping away from the game and yet it’s been nearly a decade. With how the 2020 season went, I’d gladly take 45-year-old Big Papi back in the lineup on a nightly basis.

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David Ortiz is still a massive member of the Red Sox organization to this very day. He may not be on the field anymore but he still plays a role with this team. You’ll see him every spring training down at Jet Blue Park working out with the guys while dishing out advice and knowledge to the younger players. And when October rolls around? You better believe he’s on tv every night still waving the Boston flag, whether they’re in the postseason or not. Happy birthday, David Ortiz, it’s been one hell of a first 45 years, let’s make the next 45 even better!