David Americo Ortiz Arias
(Big Papi, Senor Octubre)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 4", Weight 230 lb.
- Debut September 2, 1997
- Final Game October 10, 2016
- Born November 18, 1975 in Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, D.R.
David Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an undrafted free agent in 1992. On August 29, 1996, the M's sent a player to be named later to the Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins. The player to be named turned out to be Ortiz, who broke into the big leagues with the Twins in 1997 and spent six seasons in Minnesota.
Ortiz was famously released by the Twins after the 2002 season; while he had shown some power, hitting 20 homers with 75 RBI in his last season, the Twins felt that he was not productive enough for a player with no defensive position. In 1999, he went 0 for 20 for the year, with 12 strikeouts, almost ending his major league career at this early point.
The Boston Red Sox did not agree with the Twins' assessment of his potential and signed him as a free agent on January 22, 2003. It turned out to be one of the most inspired moves in franchise history. After joining the Red Sox, Ortiz built a reputation as one of the greatest clutch hitters in the history of the game, on par with Reggie Jackson, who earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his postseason heroics and always seemed to come through when playing on national television. In fact, on September 6, 2005, Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry called Ortiz "the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox".
Ortiz quickly became one of baseball's top sluggers after joining the Red Sox. He was second in the American League in slugging percentage in 2004, behind teammate Manny Ramirez, and in 2005, behind Alex Rodriguez. He had finished 3rd in 2003. He finished second behind Rodriguez in the 2005 AL MVP vote. When the Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, he became the first player ever to hit two [walk-off home run]s in the same postseason: he hit the series winner against the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS and connected again to end Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees). He was the first Red Sox player to hit 40 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons, when he reached the figure in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In August 2006, Ortiz checked into the hospital two separate times as a result of heart palpitations. Nothing further came of it. At the time, he was leading the league home runs by a fairly large margin and won his first home run title with 54 while playing in 151 of the team's 162 games. Although Ortiz led the AL in homers by a large margin that year, he again did not have the highest slugging percentage in the league, an honor that went to Travis Hafner. Ortiz reached base in 16 of his first 18 plate appearances in the 2007 postseason, when the Red Sox won their second Championship of the 21st century by sweeping the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.
Ortiz went 2 for 8 with 3 walks and a double as the starting 1B in the 2009 World Baseball Classic in which the Dominican Republic was surprisingly eliminated in 3 games (including 2 losses to the Netherlands).
On July 30, 2009, Ortiz was mentioned in a New York Times article as allegedly being one of 104 players, along with Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa, on a list compiled by federal agents as having tested positive in "survey" testing for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. The testing was supposed to be anonymous and no suspensions or penalties were attached to the results. Ortiz expressed surprise, saying he had never taken anything suspicious. Major League Baseball later stated that the survey testing was flawed and any positive tests resulting from it should not be construed as accurate. There was concern that Ortiz may well have been on the decline phase of his career when he started the season slowly in both 2009 and 2010, but he recovered both years, ending up with 28 and 32 homers due to mid-season power surges. He was consistently good in 2011, hitting 29 homers with 96 RBI and a .309 batting average.
He was looking for a two-year contract extension from the Red Sox after the 2011 season, but following the team's late-season collapse and the ensuing front office shake-up, all he was offered was arbitration on a one-year contract. The two sides finally agreed on a 2012 contract in February, hours before the arbitration hearing was scheduled to take place. Ortiz later stated that he felt "humiliated" about the treatment received from the team, when players with no history in Boston, such as Carl Crawford and John Lackey, had been offered huge multi-year deals. The feelings of having been mistreated did not prevent him from having his customary productive season that year, as he reached 20 homers before the All-Star Game, to which he was named for the 8th time; he also had the second-best OPS in the American League at the time. On July 4th, he hit the 400th homer of his career against the Oakland Athletics. On July 18th, however, the Red Sox placed him on the disabled list with a strained Achilles tendon. He came back on August 24th, going 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI against the Kansas City Royals, but was put pack on the disabled list two days later, as he had aggravated his Achilles tendon injury in his one game back. There was a question whether he would come back that season, and even if he had played his last game as a member of the Red Sox, given that he would become a free agent after the season and that the team was in major rebuilding mode by that point. Ortiz did call it a season, finishing the year at .318 with 23 homers and 60 RBI in 90 games, which led to a clash with manager Bobby Valentine, who accused him of packing it in early because the Sox were out of the running. When Ortiz decided to re-sign with the Red Sox for two years and $26 million after the season, Valentine had been fired and replaced by former pitching coach John Farrell; Ortiz commented that Valentine "must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something".
Ortiz was back in camp with the Red Sox in 2013, but had to be shut down for a week in early March because of pain in his left heel. He eventually missed the first two weeks of the season, but came back on April 20th, which was the team's first home game since the bombings at the Boston Marathon a week earlier. As the team's most senior player, he gave a rousing speech before the game, thanking municipal authorities and police for their work in the wake of the tragedy, then went out and collected a pair of hits and a key RBI in Boston's 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals. On May 5th, he extended his hitting streak, dating back to the previous season, to 25 games with a 1st-inning homer off Yu Darvish in a loss to the Texas Rangers; it was the longest hitting streak of his career and eventually reached 27 games before it was ended by an 0-for-5 on May 8th. The streak had lasted 309 days, interrupted as it was by three sojourns on the disabled list and one off-season. On May 18th, he banged out two homers and had 6 RBI in a 12-5 win over the Twins; it was his 38th multi-homer game in a Red Sox uniform, setting a new franchise record that had been held by Ted Williams with 37. He was once again voted as a starter in the All-Star Game, as the AL's DH. On July 10th, he became the all-time leader for hits as a designated hitter when he collected number 1,689 at the position with a 2nd-inning double in an 11-4 win over the Mariners; Harold Baines was the previous record holder. Ortiz had earlier set the record for most home runs and RBIs by a DH. On September 4th, he collected his 2,000th major league hit, as part of a 3-for-4 day that included a double, a pair of homers and 5 RBI in a 20-4 demolition of the Detroit Tigers. Ortiz finished the season with a batting line of .309/.395/.564 in 137 games, with 38 doubles, 30 homers and 103 RBIs. He added another 5 homers, 12 runs and 13 RBI in the postseason, including an incredible batting line of .688/.760/1.188 in the 2013 World Series. He was the hero of Boston's defeat of the Cardinals in 6 games, frustrating St. Louis' pitchers for the entire series to the point that they walked him four times in Game 6, three of those intentionally, as they could find no other way to contain him. He was named the World Series MVP.
When the Red Sox were invited to the White House to meet the President on April 1, 2014, as is customary with World Series winners, Ortiz was widely seen taking a "selfie" (a self-portrait taken with his cell phone) with President Barack Obama. It was seen as a good-natured gesture until sources revealed that Ortiz had signed a publicity contract with the maker of the cell phone and that the picture was a form of stealth advertising for the brand, something the White House frowned upon, threatening to make illegal the taking of such pictures in the future. Also in 2014, Ortiz passed Baines for the most games played at DH (1,644). On July 21st, he hit a pair of homers in a 14-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, giving him 453 for his career and moving him past another Boston great, Carl Yastrzemski, on the all-time list; given his years spent in Minnesota, he was still third on the Red Sox's all-time list, with 395, behind Yastrzemski, who hit all of his long balls with Boston, as did franchise leader Ted Williams, who had 521. It was also his 14th straight season of hitting 20 or more homers, a streak that had started in his last season with the Twins. He made it 400 homers as a member of the Red Sox on August 16th, when he hit two long balls and drove in 6 runs in a 10-7 win over the Houston Astros and ended the season with a .263 average, 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 142 games.
The Red Sox struggled again in the first half of the 2015 season, and Ortiz saw his average dip to .231, although he did hit 15 homers and drove in 43 runs for a team that often found it difficult to put runs on the board. On July 26th, he had a rare highlight when he homered twice and drove in a career-high 7 runs in an 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Away from the spotlight, he had an excellent second half and on September 12th joined the 500 home run club when he went deep twice in a game against the Rays. He was the 27th player to reach that total. He hit number 499 in the 1st inning, then went deep again against Matt Moore in the 5th to lead Boston to a 10-4 win. He commented: "In the history of the game, you don't see that many players getting to the 500 club, so I'm going to take a lot of pride on that. They starting mentioning your name, comparing your name to legends, it's something that I'm going to take very humble, I'll take as a compliment." He was the second player after Albert Pujols to hit number 499 and 500 in the same game. He had another solid season, hitting .273 with 37 doubles and as many homers in 146 games, while scoring 73 runs and driving in 108. After the season, on the occasion of his 40th birthday, he announced that 2016 would be his last year as he intended to retire afterwards.
2016 may have been Ortiz's last season, but he wanted to leave on top. He was in the middle of things as Boston got off to a hot start, taking over first place in the AL East in early May. On May 14th, against the Houston Astros, he had a tremendous game: he homered in the 3rd; with two outs in the 9th, hit a triple off Luke Gregerson to drive in Xander Bogaerts and tie the game; finally in the 11th, again with two outs and Bogaerts on base, he doubled off Michael Feliz to give Boston a walk-off 6-5 win. The double was the 600th of his career, making him the third player with 500 homers and 600 doubles, after Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. He played his last regular season game on October 2nd, his final series being marked with a ceremony in his honor before each of the three games. The President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, was present at his final game to throw the ceremonial first pitch to him, the Red Sox announced that his uniform number 34 would be retired in his honor, and the State of Massachusetts and the city of Boston named a bridge over Brookline Avenue and a street near Fenway Park after him. He finished the year with a .315 average, 48 doubles, 38 homers and 127 RBIs, perhaps the greatest final season for a player in history. Among the records he set that year including most home runs, most RBI, mostr extra-base hits (87) and most doubles in a player's final year. And there was an encore coming, as the Red Sox had completed a "worst-to-first" season by winning a division title and were slated to play the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series. However, he failed to produce much as the Red Sox were swept in three games, bringing his illustrious career to an end.
Because of his power, lack of speed, and tendency to pull the ball, most opposing teams played a defensive shift when Ortiz came to the plate: three infielders would usually position themselves between first and second base, with the second baseman in short right field, and the third baseman playing in the normal shortstop position.
Ortiz holds a slew of career records for designated hitters. In addition to most hits and RBIs, as mentioned below, he leads in games, plate appearances, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases, strikeouts, walks and intentional walks at the position.
Following his retirement, the Red Sox retired Ortiz's uniform number, 34, at a ceremony held on June 23, 2017. He published his autobiography that year and the City of Boston also honored him by renaming a street that runs from Fenway Park to the nearest train station as "David Ortiz Drive". It was sometimes speculated that he would go into politics in retirement, but his first project came completely out of left field: it was revealed in early 2018 that he was working on a reality show concept entitled "Big Papi Needs a Job", which would track him trying different occupations, such as dog groomer, musician, and even nail salon assistant.
Below is a list of his walk-off home runs:
|Date||Opponent||Opposing Pitcher||Inning||Runs||Final Score|
|September 23, 2003||Baltimore Orioles||Kurt Ainsworth||10||1||6 - 5|
|April 11, 2004||Toronto Blue Jays||Aquilino Lopez||12||2||6 - 4|
|October 8, 2004||Anaheim Angels||Jarrod Washburn||10||2||8 - 6|
|October 17, 2004||New York Yankees||Paul Quantrill||12||2||6 - 4|
|June 2, 2005||Baltimore Orioles||B.J. Ryan||9||3||6 - 4|
|September 6, 2005||Anaheim Angels||Scot Shields||9||1||3 - 2|
|June 11, 2006||Texas Rangers||Akinori Otsuka||9||3||5 - 4|
|June 24, 2006||Philadelphia Phillies||Tom Gordon||10||2||5 - 3|
|July 31, 2006||Cleveland Indians||Fausto Carmona||9||3||9 - 8|
|September 12, 2007||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||Alberto Reyes||9||2||5 - 4|
|August 26, 2009||Chicago White Sox||Tony Pena||9||1||3 - 2|
|June 6, 2013||Texas Rangers||Michael Kirkman||9||3||6 - 3|
- 10-time AL All-Star (2004-2008, 2010-2013 & 2016)
- 2004 ALCS MVP
- 2013 World Series MVP
- 7-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2004-2007, 2011, 2013 & 2016/DH)
- AL On-Base Percentage Leader (2007)
- AL Slugging Percentage Leader (2016)
- AL OPS Leader (2016)
- AL Doubles Leader (2016)
- AL Total Bases Leader (2006)
- AL Home Runs Leader (2006)
- 3-time AL RBI Leader (2005, 2006 & 2016)
- 2-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (2006 & 2007)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 15 (2002-2016)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 10 (2003-2007, 2010 & 2013-2016)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2004-2006)
- 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2006)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 10 (2003-2007, 2010 & 2013-2016)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (2005-2007)
- Won three World Series with the Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007 & 2013)
- Home runs, designated hitter, season, 47, 2006
- Home runs, designated hitter, career, 485
- Runs batted in, designated hitter, career, 1,569
- Ted Berg: "David Ortiz is not concerned about all the 'crying babies in baseball'", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, June 2, 2016. 
- The Boston Globe: Big Papi: The Legend and Legacy of David Ortiz, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2016. ISBN 9781629373478
- Bob Nightengale: "Nightengale: Without a doubt, David Ortiz is a Hall of Famer", USA Today Sports, September 10, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Boston's ambassador David Ortiz 'ready to pass the torch'", USA Today Sports, February 24, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Amid David Ortiz's MVP exit, Red Sox ponder: 'What do we do without him?'", USA Today Sports, June 8, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Red Sox pull out stops for David Ortiz: Number retired, bridge named in honor", USA Today Sports, October 2, 2016. 
- David Ortiz and Tony Massarotti: Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 2007. ISBN 978-0312383442
- David Ortiz and Michael Holley: Papi: My Story, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 978-0544814615
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "David Ortiz: 'Big Papi' in name — and actions", USA Today Sports, November 17, 2015. 
- Phil Rogers: "Papi's swan song will be a celebration for baseball: Red Sox legend's impact reaches far beyond fans at Fenway Park", mlb.com, February 23, 2016. 
- John Schlegel: "Papi a threat to shatter many final-season marks", mlb.com, July 14, 2016. 
- Kevin Spain: "Big Papi blasts former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in new book", USA Today Sports, May 11, 2017.