Big Papi. The nickname captures the ‘substantial’ meaning of not only the boisterous charisma of David Ortiz, but also his illustrious history of hitting in the clutch.
Last week, Ortiz announced that this would be his final season in the MLB. After 19 years in the league—13 spent in Boston—he will retire as one of this generation’s most iconic power hitters.
Here are the facts: He is a nine-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, 500 home run club member, three-time World Series champion, and two-time World Series MVP. Clearly, the facts show the immense impact he has had on the Red Sox over the past decade and a half.
Ortiz, however, was never content to let his actions speak louder than his words. After the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Big Papi rallied the city, grabbing the mic at the pre-game ceremonies at Fenway to shout, “This is our fucking town!” Furthermore, he also supports and organizes around six charities, including The David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Josh Beckett Foundation.
Ortiz was an unstoppable force in the prime of his career, but the closest he ever came to winning an MVP was a second place finish in 2005. He did put up some insane regular season numbers, averaging 141 RBI from 2004-2006, but the post-season was where Big Papi truly cemented his place in baseball history.
One of the most important games in Red Sox history was game four of the 2004 American League Championship Series. After Boston’s Dave Roberts stole second, and Bill Mueller knocked him in to tie the game in the ninth, David Ortiz stole the show by knocking a ‘no doubter’ in the bottom of the 12th inning to walk-off the game. This would eventually rally the Red Sox to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the series, the only time this ever had occurred in baseball history. For Ortiz, this was simply business as usual.
More amazingly, Ortiz is still efficient in the twilight of his career. At 40 years old, Ortiz is still producing at an elite rate, and most importantly, the homers are still there. Just last year he hit .273, with 108 runs batted in and 37 home runs. To do this at his age is as remarkable as it is unprecedented.
Big Papi’s legend will live on after he retires. Not only in Boston, but also in the hallowed chambers of Cooperstown.