The situation: September 12th, 2015
The moment: Ortiz’s fifth-inning blast off Matt Moore makes him the 27th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs
Few members of the 500 home run club were more unlikely than Ortiz. The future legend was just a role-player during his time with the Twins, playing over 100 games just once in his first five seasons.
When he arrived in Boston in 2003, he was a 27-year-old with just 58 career home runs. Nobody would have guessed that he would one day join one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball history. Yet Ortiz developed into one of the most fearsome sluggers of his generations, and he entered 2015 with 466 home runs
The 2015 season was a bit of a renaissance for Ortiz. Though he got off to a rocky start, batting just .231 with 15 home runs in the first half, he caught fire in the second half and ended the season with his highest home run total since 2006. As he piled up the long balls, 500 home runs came into sight, and it became a matter of when he would reach the milestone, not if.
Ortiz would accomplish the feat on a Saturday night in Tampa Bay. He actually entered the game sitting on 498 home runs, but a first-inning three-run shot off Rays starter Matt Moore brought him to within one.
Papi would face Moore again in the fifth inning and launched a hanging curveball into the right-field seats. A player who did not get his first full-time role until age 27 had become the 27th player in MLB history to reach the 500 home run plateau.
The Red Sox poured out of the dugout to greet their franchise icon, while the many Sox fans in attendance gave Ortiz a standing ovation. Much like the 2006 season, the Red Sox being out of the postseason race allowed the fans and media to focus their attention on Ortiz’s pursuit of history, and Big Papi, of course, came through.