David Ortiz, nicknamed “Big Papi”, is one of the most popular and prolific professional baseball players in the history of Boston Red Sox. He was inducted into Cooperstown as a member of the 2017 class after 18 seasons at-the-biggest with 541 home runs during his career.
David Ortiz is a retired Major League Baseball player that has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was known for his powerful batting, and he has had an impact on the game in many ways. This article will talk about what makes David Ortiz a Hall of Famer, from those who know him best.
With 77.9% of the vote, David Ortiz was voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Big Papi put up tremendous numbers at the bat, but he was also a larger-than-life personality off the field, with an infectious charm that influenced teammates and opponents alike. We asked Ortiz’s contemporaries for their best anecdotes about him, and they delivered.
‘A Babe Ruth-type genius,’ says Alex Rodriguez.
After years of playing against one other in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez now share a desk for the Fox pregame show. Their friendship, on the other hand, dates back to when they were both youngsters in the Seattle Mariners organization. Ortiz signed as a free agent with the Mariners in the autumn of 1992, and Rodriguez was picked first overall the following summer by Seattle.
Rodriguez rose to prominence quickly, placing second in the AL MVP vote in 1996 at the age of 21. Ortiz traveled about for a while, eventually landing with the Twins in a trade in 1996 until Minnesota became tired of him and dismissed him after the 2002 season. Rodriguez remembers attempting to convince then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks to sign Ortiz for $1 million because he believed the left-handed batter would flourish in Arlington’s The Ballpark, where the wind blew predominantly to right field. Rodriguez said earlier this week, “I don’t know whether there was a roster problem or a money issue or what.” “But the Red Sox rushed in” — Theo Epstein signed Ortiz for $1.25 million at Pedro Martinez’s request — “and the rest is history.”
If the Rangers’ intended trade of Rodriguez to the Red Sox hadn’t been thwarted by the players’ union, Rodriguez would have been Ortiz’s teammate in 2004. Instead, once Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees, Ortiz and Rodriguez became bitter rivals in the AL East. They would, however, continue to assist one another in their times of need.
Rodriguez was having trouble with his swing early in his Yankees career, so after a game at Fenway Park, he went to Ortiz’s Boston-area home and the two spoke about it. Ortiz urged Rodriguez to concentrate on doing what he needed to do to smash high-velocity fastballs on the inner corner of the plate. Rodriguez, who bats right-handed, would be able to get his front foot down early — his left foot — and, if he could do that, Ortiz claimed, he would be able to respond to anything. Rodriguez has great faith in Ortiz’s hitting ability.
Ortiz was described by Rodriguez as “a Babe Ruth-type genius.” “A-plus-plus-plus. He has an A-plus work ethic, an A-plus video work, and an A-plus ability to play at a high level.”
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The two of them rose up to swing fake bats in the debate “till three or four o’clock in the morning” while Rodriguez tinkered and Ortiz spoke about what he viewed as a required improvement. Rodriguez recalls Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, reminding them how late it was and wondering aloud whether it was time to call it a night.
Ortiz was suffering a few years later, to the point that he wasn’t always playing against left-handed pitchers, and there were industry reports that the Red Sox were considering moving him or dumping him entirely. Ortiz visited Rodriguez in New York, and Rodriguez recalls telling Ortiz that he needed to change his diet and avoid packaged foods. Stick to the exterior boundaries of the grocery store, Rodriguez recalls instructing Ortiz, since that’s where the vegetable sections and fresh fruit are usually found. Rodriguez said, “He totally altered his diet.” “You’ve got one of the most psychologically strong SOBs I’ve ever seen, but you’ve got to get your body to match your head,” I told him.
Rodriguez told Ortiz that if he could achieve that, he’d be able to reclaim his status as a major performer. “Unfortunately,” Rodriguez chuckled, “I was dead correct about it.” Buster Olney’s remark
‘Hey, whatever you do, be cautious when David walks up,’ Torii Hunter warns.
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Gabe Kapler recalls David Ortiz giving each of his Red Sox teammates an unique handshake. Kapler, currently the manager of the San Francisco Giants, believes that if he and Ortiz met into one other today, they would be able to repeat their 2004 championship handshake. It demonstrates how wonderfully Ortiz handled all players, from superstars like Pedro Martinez to part-timers like Kapler, according to Kapler.
“He treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Kapler added. “He was a pretty ordinary person who rose to a level of performance and superstardom that no one could have predicted.”
Kapler and Ortiz met in the Florida State League, where Kapler played for the Tigers’ Lakeland club and Ortiz for the Twins’ Class A team in Fort Myers. “I got to know him there,” Kapler remembered, “and found him to be modest and down to earth.” “I believe his career was in risk later on, and he was able to draw on some of those problems [in the minors] and he stayed pretty down to earth, and [discovered] resurrections,” says the author.
When Ortiz batted.400 in the 2004 playoffs and led Boston’s dramatic comeback against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series with three walk-off singles, Kapler saw the birth of one of the greatest October hitters of all time. Kapler is a sponge for knowledge and objective facts, and he may have been suspicious of the concept of a clutch player at one point in his life, like many in baseball’s statistical community.
But he witnessed Ortiz play in front of the greatest fans, on baseball’s biggest stage, in the most dramatic moments. “Now that he’s been a manager and seen [players], David has a clutch-performer DNA.”
“He never shied away from a challenge,” Kapler added. “He was never too agitated… He was a really calm and kind individual. Very calm and collected. He was able to succeed in various situations because of his steady, calm heart rate.” Olney’s words
‘We thought it was so hilarious, dude,’ Hunter says.
“Corey [Koskie] removed his suit from his locker and replaced it with a Lee County Jail uniform while in Boston. David was such a sportsman — this is how he is — that he donned a Lee County Jail orange suit on the field during spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.”
“All day, David is teasing Corey, and Corey says, ‘All right, I’m going to get him.’ Corey got up early, put peanut butter in his undies, and David was DH’ing. As a result, he smeared peanut butter over the center of his underpants… As a result, we all took showers. David is always yelling, laughing, and telling jokes. He’s still making jokes despite the fact that the game is done. He then goes into the shower. Because they know what Corey did, everyone is sitting in their locker and refusing to leave. We were like, ‘Wow, he hasn’t felt it yet?’ when David came out of the shower, walked over to his locker, grabbed his shirt, put his socks on, then his underwear on, then he continued going, put his trousers on, and tied his shoes up, and he took a few steps. Then, in the midst of his stride, he came to a halt and halted, as if something was wrong. ‘You motherf—-ers!’ he yelled as he turned around. He’d just begun yelling at us. We’re laughing and sobbing as we tumble out of our chairs. ‘Are you accustomed to having anything in between your underwear?’ we asked. Man, we thought it was hilarious.” — Alden Gonzalez was informed this.
‘Be your nature,’ says David Ross.
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“David is really intelligent. When we were talking about hitting at the rear of the aircraft, I thought to myself, “I don’t think like this; no surprise I’m an s—- hitter.” ‘Be your nature,’ he advised. Don’t miss the fastball if you’re a fastball hitter, and smash the breaking ball if you’re a breaking ball hitter. Get in the box, figure out who you are, and don’t lose sight of it. If you’re a fastball hitter and they’re throwing you a lot of garbage, take a break and hit the fastball instead.”
“I once questioned him about a bomb he hit off a terrible changeup. He’d gone up to see at-bats against left-handed batters. They threw three changeups to one of our lefties, and he said, ‘What do you think they’ll pitch me?’ He was quite astute in anticipating when and what they would throw at him. That day, he worked out a changeup.”
“The baseball talents were matched by the size of the heart. After each playoff victory, he threw a party. Everyone was invited to attend. His pastor, ownership. He’s a unique individual.”
“Everyone knew he was there to put on a show as soon as he walked out of the dugout. He had a really distinctive presence.” Jesse Rogers was told this.
‘He understands the game,’ says Alex Cora.
Ortiz was a dreaded presence at the bat, but a popular figure in the clubhouse. Getty Images/John Dunn/Sporting News
Alex Cora described David Ortiz like a rock star, complete with fancy clothing, jewelry, and sunglasses. Ortiz, on the other hand, often asks about Alex’s daughter, Camila, and his twin kids whenever they meet one other. “”There’s a huge heart behind the clothes he wears,” said Cora, Ortiz’s former Boston teammate and now the team’s manager. He’s a real individual.”
Cora observed a true respect for the input of coaches and scouts, as well as their knowledge, inside that honesty. Ortiz hit.332, had 88 extra-base hits, drew 111 walks, scored 116 runs, and drove in 117 in 2007. That year, his Adjusted OPS+ was the best of his career. That year, he was at the top of his game as Big Papi. The batters met with advance scouts David Howard and Todd Claus before the start of Boston’s Division Series against the Angels to examine the Anaheim pitchers’ tendencies. Cora recalls one of the scouts telling Ortiz — he thinks it was Howard — that if Ortiz went ahead in the ball-strike count with first base empty, he could depend on the Angels’ John Lackey throwing him a curveball. Ortiz might absolutely sell out and go for the curve, according to the scouts.
Because Ortiz was Boston’s No. 3 hitter at the time, his counsel went against popular opinion. Manny Ramirez batted behind him, and Ortiz was frequently hit by fastballs.
Ortiz was in the batter’s box against Lackey a few hours later. Kevin Youkilis was on second base, Ramirez was on deck, and first base was vacant. Lackey was down 1-0 in the count. The scouts had presented Ortiz with this precise scenario, and as Cora remembered, Ortiz took their advice and sought for a curveball. Lackey delivered a curveball to the batter. And Ortiz sliced it up for a two-run homer to put the Red Sox up 3-0 in the first game of a series sweep.
“He understands the game,” Cora said. “He’s a hard worker as a baseball player.”
When Cora led the Red Sox to the World Series in 2018, Ortiz was in his second year of retirement and working for Fox. Ortiz waded into the Boston clubhouse before the game, radiating Big Papi enthusiasm and told the teammates that they were on the edge of a title, according to Cora. Cora chuckled as she remembered, “He was more enthusiastic than the players.” “‘Try to take it one game at a time,’ you know how players are. ‘We’re going to end this s—- tonight!’ said (Ortiz).”
Big Papi was correct once again. Olney’s words
‘You anticipate the heroics,’ says Jed Hoyer.
“There’s always the question of whether clutch exists. For me, he is the only example I will ever use. Yes, since I’ve been following David Ortiz for so long.”
“Having the opportunity to witness him night after night is, without a doubt, one of the joys of my career.”
“In 2013, I was on a trip with Theo to the West Coast after we left Boston, and since we were delayed, we were watching Game 2 of the ALCS against Detroit on our phones when he hit that grand slam to tie it in the eighth inning. We were counting down the players till it was his time at the bat before he arrived. We knew it would be knotted if they could just get it to David. He ties it, of course. With which player would you do that? That was the first time I’d seen someone like that. You’re expecting heroism.” Jesse Rogers was told this.
‘The rest is history,’ says Theo Epstein.
“That was my first offseason, and we were looking to put together a tough lineup and strengthen our roster’s depth. We needed to save money, so we let Cliff Floyd go and looked for impact and value at 1B-DH-3B, knowing that if we discovered good possibilities, we could let the rest of the season work itself out. We acquired Jeremy Giambi, claimed Kevin Millar, and signed Bill Mueller and David, knowing that Shea Hillenbrand may be moved for pitching in the future. I mentioned on the teleconference the day we announced David’s signing that we felt he could be an impact middle-of-the-order bat for us, but that we expected things to be congested early in the season until things settled down.”
“It was difficult for David to not be able to play every day for the first six weeks or so. He was battling for a spot in the lineup, batting around.200 with no home runs. The guys were joking around with him, calling him Juan Pierre because of his lack of power.”
“David was angry and depressed, but he tried not to let it show in the clubhouse, where he was already a well-liked and uniting figure. He sent [agent] Fern Cuza to visit me, and we spoke after a game in the Fenway Park player parking lot. David loved it in Boston, but not being in the lineup was driving him insane, according to Cuza. David wanted to be moved, he claimed, unless he could be in the lineup every day. I promised Fern that if she gave me a week, we’d figure out a way to get David back into the lineup. We traded Hillenbrand for Byung-Yun Kim at the end of May, and Grady Little began starting David in the lineup almost every day after that. He hit right away, with a.961 OPS in June, and had a fantastic second half. After that, the rest is history.” Jesse Rogers was told this.
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