Red Sox Nation celebrates a big day with David Ortiz
There isn’t much to be excited about in the baseball world right now but for Red Sox Nation today is a pretty big day and deserves some celebration. No, I’m not talking about a Hall of Fame induction for a certain slugger though this does involve David Ortiz. As we look at the calendar today’s date should stick out to Boston sports fans as it marks 19 years since the man we know as Big Papi was brought to Fenway Park.
Nearly two decades ago, on the advice of the legendary Pedro Martinez, the Red Sox signed a middling DH who didn’t quite pan out in Minnesota. With Pedro and Ortiz both being from the Dominican Republic they were familiar with one another and then of course their meetings while on opposing sides in MLB. If it weren’t for Martinez telling Theo Epstein that he needed to go to and get the slugger, history may be very different.
I couldn’t think of a more perfect time for this anniversary to come up as we’re just days away from what feels like a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction for Big Papi. What better way to close out the first month of 2022 than celebrating your anniversary while receiving the highest honor in baseball. All day long I saw tweets and other social media posts from former Red Sox players, fans, and the baseball world marking the 19th year since Ortiz signed with Boston.
The legend of Big Papi starts with a one-year/$1.25M contract and the rest is history, literally. One of the most clutch hitters in not just Red Sox history but in all of baseball and a man beloved by those that know him. His legacy is long and storied in Boston but two postseasons definitely act as the foundation, 2004 and 2013.
If it weren’t for Papi’s heroics in 2004 we wouldn’t have broken the curse. It’s very possible that the Bambino would still be lording over Red Sox Nation until 2007 at the earliest and possibly even still in 2018 if it weren’t for Ortiz. He not only propelled the Sox to the World Series but he did so by vanquishing our biggest rival in the process, beautiful.
What he did for the city of Boston in 2013 after the Marathon Bombings is something of lore. As the city was hurting he made sure to let the world know, “This is our F-ing city!” Boston Strong would be born and the team would charge toward another World Series crown while also helping the city heal from tragedy. Always a leader, always the loudest voice in the room, a player that many of us grew up watching.
Ortiz would spend 14 seasons with the Red Sox before deciding it was time to put his bat down and hang up his jersey. He had his name enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame back in 2020 and very well could be days away from adding Cooperstown as his new address. His number also hangs in Fenway Park as no player will ever wear “34” for this organization again. Hard to argue against that as nobody will ever fill those shoes.
As it stands right now, Ortiz is sitting at 83.5% for Hall of Fame voting with 44.9% of the ballots tallied, per Ryan Thibodaux. Being this clear of the 75% threshold bodes very well for the legendary DH, but as we all know, plenty of those ballots that won’t be made public could hurt him. Despite never TRULY failing a drug test he often gets lumped into the PED group by those that aren’t smart enough to see the distinction of that 2003 sample size.
However, being so far above the mark could give him the cushion he needs to counter any of those negative ballots that will bring his total down. As we get closer to that Tuesday announcement his numbers have not only stayed steady but have risen with each day. Again, what better way to punctuate a massive career anniversary than by having your phone ring with “Cooperstown” popping up on the caller ID.
David Ortiz will forever be remembered as one of the most clutch hitters in the history of the sport. Red Sox Nation will always remember him as the man that led the charge to break the curse while uniting a fanbase and city when they were hurting the most. The last 19 years have flown by in the blink of an eye and in just a few short days we can see the culmination of his efforts. Big Papi will always cause Fenway Park to erupt whether he’s holding a bat or talking on the mic.