David Ortiz is probably the most clutch player in the history of baseball, and other than Ted Williams, the best player in Red Sox History. But before we get to all that, there are just a few memories we have to recall. To see his last game as a professional baseball player come at the hands of a sweep doesn’t seem right to me, but that’s life, you can’t get the sugar coated ending Peyton Manning got… Ortiz had plenty of moments that we will share in Boston folklore until we all move on from life itself, and reliving memories is cherishing and seemingly perfect.
Ortiz came to Boston before the 2003 season after the Twins released him at the end of the 2002 season. When Ortiz signed with Boston, he had only a relationship with Pedro Martinez that brought him here. From there, his career would be the stuff of legends. As a young fan at that time, the Gambino had cursed the Red Sox.
I remember watching the 2003 playoffs and watching the third best player in the Boone family hit that walk-off on Tim Wakefield to advance to what became their World Series defeat to Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, and the Marlins. But Ortiz made a name for himself that season and earned a place in the middle of the order with fellow slugger Manny Ramirez.
Both Ramirez and Ortiz formed a 3-4 combo that would be amongst the best in baseball and help deliver us a World Series trophy, something this city and region had coveted after all the years of disappointment.
Ortiz hit the walk-off to win the 2004 ALDS against the Anaheim Angels (before they made themselves the longest team name in sports lol), hit the walk-off in Game 4 of the ALCS when the team was facing the brink of elimination and more agony.
But that was just the beginning of all the clutch moments he would deliver throughout his legendary career because in game 5, he hit ANOTHER Walk off and it eventually led to the biggest playoff collapse in the history of baseball.
As a young fan at that time, I knew the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series was by far way more significant to the city of Boston than any other sporting achievement could’ve been at that time, I still can recall that playoff run, and I’m probably the millionth person to say it, without David Ortiz, NONE of this is possible! Yes, there were several great players on those teams, but Ortiz was always the man who came through even in doubt, in the 2004 playoffs there wasn’t a better player than David Ortiz.
Ortiz made one of the greatest, most uplifting messages any city in tragedy ever needed after the Boston Marathon bombing took place.
“All right, Boston,” Big Papi said, clapping his hands. “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston.’ We want to thank you, Mayor [Thomas] Menino, Governor [Deval] Patrick, the whole police department for the great job that they did this past week. This is our f***ing city. And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong. Thank You!”
I just remember when he said it. I had to rewind the DVR, just to make sure he said what I thought he said. Regardless of how you feel about profanity, it was the best thing any one person said at that moment. New York fans and other fan bases can talk their smack, but Ortiz is a baseball player, Ortiz is so gracious towards the fans in this city, having seen him take batting practice a few times before games.
The 2013 World Series run to me still seems so unreal, even three years later, that team just didn’t look like the two winners prior, especially with the free agents, everyone complained we overpaid that offseason prior. But then again, Pedroia, Lester, and Ortiz were able to pull magic out of the hat again. Ortiz did hit .088 in the ALCS against Detroit, but that grand slam in Game 2, was exactly he is what he is in baseball folklore, the series was different after that.
Ortiz had probably the greatest WS performance we’ve ever seen with his .688 batting average against the Cardinals. He hit that homer in Game 2 to take the lead in the bottom of the 6th. Ortiz went 3-3 in Game 4, 3-3 in a WS game, that’s spectacular! But nothing beat the moment of watching Boston celebrate their first WS win in Boston since 1918. The city where the American Revolution started, a city that had seen all the heartbreak with their beloved Red Sox, had seen the team win one on Yawkey Way.
Of course, many moments within the three World Series may change the opinion and the narrative about him. There’s that “drug test” a long time ago that people will use to demean the greatness of the player he is. He treats the media like crap sometimes, especially in Boston, where everything has to be perfect at all times with anybody. There are those that don’t think Ortiz belongs in Cooperstown, NY because he was a DH.
All that is why I think we get so disappointed with society, we can’t deny it. We just have to admit that no one is perfect. But for Boston fans, let’s remember the best times we had with David Ortiz. There will be no one able to replicate what Ortiz has brought to this city, I promise. Because we saw Ortiz in his final speech mentioned his mother and how his mother never got to see him become the player he truly became, I’m sure like us, David Ortiz’s late mother would be proud of him.
I’m also thankful for former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez for being with David Ortiz when he has released the Twins. Pedro made the phone calls to assure that the man that became Big Papi came to Boston and gave us 14 years of endless memories and iconic moments and most of all… Three World Series trophies after having generations go without seeing the Red Sox win a championship.
My generation is spoiled by the greatness we’ve seen on display. I wish the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs nothing but the best in their pursuit to break their long World Series droughts. Those are good baseball teams, and those fans are passionate fans who would have the same joy Bostonians have had in the past fourteen years, and keep in mind Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were the big pieces to the puzzle for Boston as they broke the curse in 2004.
But even when we all pass on, Boston fans will still look up at the banners at Fenway and see the trophies and attribute that to the contribution that #34 David Ortiz, Thank You, Big Papi! Perhaps one day in the future, we will see you in Cooperstown, NY.