This week we have dedicated several articles to remembering a handful of the big names that decided it was time to move on from their respective sports. Each piece will focus on one individual, and incorporate how the author will remember that specific player.
All the players on this list have either just finished their last season, or are currently playing in what they have said would be their last season.
We continue the series with David Ortiz.
After a year hiatus, the retirement tour has returned to baseball. This time the Boston great, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, will be taking a final bow after an illustrious twenty year career. Over this span, Ortiz is a nine time all-star, has won three world championships (including a World Series MVP), and is one of only 27 players in the 500 home run club. When I think of Big Papi the first word that comes to mind is, clutch. The prime example of this is his performance in the 2004 ALCS. When his team needed him most, down 3 games to none in the bottom of the 12th inning, Papi made the biggest play of his career.
One swing of the bat forever changed the course of the game and history. Without his walk-off home run momentum would not have swung in Boston’s favor, preventing them from making the three game comeback necessary to advance to the World Series. Without this hit, the Curse of the Bambino could very much still be in existence. David Ortiz’s clutch hitting in the postseason saved the city of Boston from one of the worst sports curses in all of history. During the course of that post season, Ortiz hit 5 home runs and 19 RBIs in only 68 plate appearances. Throughout his postseason career as a whole, Papi has an unreal .295/.409/.553 line in 357 post season plate appearances. On the sport’s biggest stage and when his team needed him most, Ortiz produced results. There have been many great players who go out and have great regular season performances; however, the true superstars are the ones who play their very best in the post season. David Ortiz is one of these players.
Many people don’t realize that David Ortiz is one of the last of his kind. And with his retirement comes the end of the era of the exclusive designated hitters. In today’s game, the DH serves more as a position to give fielders a half day off, or to squeeze in another player in the lineup to exploit a mismatch. Papi is part of a dying breed of players who exclusively served as the designated hitter. These men had one sole purpose and that was to generate runs. Most commonly through one of the most exciting plays in all of sports, the home run. David and his counterparts were some of the best power hitters of their time keeping fans entertained with stupendous displays of strength. Some could argue that of these career DHs David Ortiz stands as the best in history. Ortiz currently holds the all-time records for most home runs, hits, and RBIs by a designated hitter; records that are most likely never to be surpassed. He is the gold standard for the position of DH; the game is losing its best at that position when Ortiz hangs up his cleats.
Though I have never had the opportunity to see David Ortiz play in person, whenever I would watch him on TV he always seemed to be be in a position to make an impact in the game. His unrivaled ability in both pure hitting and power has cemented him as one of, if not the deadliest, hitter of the past decade. This season, I will be watching a great deal of Red Sox games to get one last look at the man who has been the heart of Boston and is a lock to be immortalized in Cooperstown at his first opportunity. Enjoy it while it lasts, because I am sure that there will never be another player as consistent and clutch as Big Papi.
Featured image courtesy of: Tom Thai https://www.flickr.com/photos/eviltomthai/5970000073