Big Papi for a reason

Future baseball Hall of Famer will retire after conclusion of season


David Ortiz smashes a homerun against the Baltimore Orioles. photo by Keith Allison. Used with permission.

Story by Tye Shelton, sports editor

It seems that when a great sports career ends, many hone in on the final days of what has fascinated them for years.

The magic and the greatness brought about by a certain individual encompasses the mind of the fan. Drowned out by the disbelief of the end, it is hard to fathom that what has happened for so many years will no longer be after the end of a season.

This year, the greatest clutch hitter in baseball history–David Ortiz– will lace his spikes up for the final time in a major league baseball uniform.

Ortiz hails from the Dominican Republic, a man proud of his heritage. His larger–than–life persona has matched his stature all throughout his life and career. He hit his first homerun with the Minnesota Twins against the Texas Rangers in 1997. Since then Ortiz has not looked back, and has been solidly established as one of the  game’s greatest home run hitters to ever step in the box.

But it is not his time in Minnesota that he is remembered for, at least for a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan such as myself. Since my birth in 1999 there has not been a sports figure I gravitate to more than Ortiz. The Sox acquired Ortiz in 2002 going down as one of the greatest transactions in club history. Number 34 with Boston across his chest has become as much a staple to Fenway Park just as much as the famed leftfield fence “Green Monster.”

It is not so much to me the idea of Ortiz leaving that upsets me but he is just an embodiment of the Red Sox and what they have meant to me for the past 17 years. Raised a Red Sox fan since birth I have known nothing else but Sox baseball, the rivalry with the dreaded Yanks, the “we have 27 rings,” and the dreaded curse of the Bambino. Not only did Ortiz take on a role of clutch but more of a savior to myself and Red Sox nation.

There are always moments within sports that call for big time performances from players and the results from these players proves to the fans if they have what it takes or not. It is very clear that David Ortiz has what it takes within these moments, the same kind of moment when he was up against Paul Quantrill in the bottom of the 12th of game 4 in the 2004 ALCS. The same kind of moment that sparked a RBI single off Esteban Loiaza in the bottom of the 14th in game 5 of the same series that eventually ended the “Curse of the Bambino,” with the Red Sox beating the Yankees 4-3 in a best of 7 series.  

These moments are just a single file within the full cabinet of moments spent in a Red Sox uniform for Ortiz. His impact cannot simply be put within a single story of words. There is no arrangement of words to describe what David Ortiz means to baseball.

The happiness he brought to baseball pairing with Manny Ramirez, providing two big smiles playing a child’s game only in its most complex form. Ortiz has become something of such repetitiveness and dependability that it is expected of him to perform not only well but beyond expectation time and time again. It seems that when the pressure increases, so does the performance of Ortiz. Never shying away from a moment, here soon when the moment calls for a clutch performance no longer will Ortiz be around to be called upon.

Soon Ortiz will take his last trip around the bases, his last ball will land over the fence, and his last curtain call will happen.
I will shed a tear or two on that day, just as I cried when Ortiz hit a game tying grand-slam in the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. It is a weird feeling in your gut, a weird feeling to wrap your mind around the fact that such a familiar face who has become such a facet in the game today will simply just not be around anymore. Now the Red Sox enter the postseason as contenders for another pennant and another World Series trophy. If you look up at the end of October and a big moment arises late in a game, just don’t be surprised if number 34 is looming in the on deck circle preparing to show us greatness just one more time.