Before he was ever the beloved “Big Papi,” David Ortiz was just a kid from the Dominican Republic. Ortiz was born in Saint Domingo, Dominican Republic on November 18, 1975. David’s father, Enrique, played baseball for several years in the Dominican pro and semipro leagues and became a source of inspiration for David. As a young teen, David learned to love the game like his father and followed in his footsteps. David’s mother, Angela, played an enormous part in David’s life and still does to this day. David’s mother passed away in 2002, right before his spring training for the Minnesota Twins. Devastated with the loss of his mother, David was distraught and felt as though a huge part of him was missing. David promised himself that he would dedicate his hard work and all his accomplishments to his mother and she soon became his biggest motivation.
Starting off his professional career in 1992, David signed with the Minor-League team, the Seattle Mariners, and played for them until he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1996. David quickly established himself has one of the best hitters on the Mariners and his performance earned him a promotion with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Class A Midwest League. In 1996, he batted .322 with 18 home runs and 93 RBIs, earning him honors as a Midwest league All-Star. Shortly after, David was traded to the Minnesota Twins.
David made his Major-League debut for the Twins on September 2, 1997. David spent six seasons with the Minnesota Twins until his career with them came to an end after the 2002 season. However, his career was far from over. Soon after his release, David caught the eye of the Boston Red Sox.
"They call me super papi.
That's right. Put it down like that."
CAREER IN BOSTONDavid signed with the Red Sox in 2003. Initially, he was used as a part time designated hitter, but in the 2004 season, that all changed. David broke out by hitting .301, slamming 41 home runs and driving in 139 runs. David quickly became a Boston fan-favorite, earning the nickname “Big Papi” that persists today. In the 2004 postseason, he helped orchestrate a comeback victory over the rival New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. David was the catalyst in the comeback, hitting an iconic walk-off home run in Game 4 and a game-winning single in Game 5. To date, the 2004 Red Sox is the only baseball team to ever win a playoff series after being down 3 games to zero. The season was capped off with a World Series Championship, ending an 86 year drought. David’s role on the 2004 team will forever be remembered as one of the best in baseball history.
After 2004, David became known as one of the game’s most feared and clutch hitters. Over the duration of his career, David earned 10 All Star Game selections and 7 AL Silver Slugger Awards. His name will forever be in the history books as one of only 27 players in baseball history to hit 500 career home runs. At the designated hitter position, David holds the all-time MLB record for hits, runs batted in, games, plate appearances, at-bats, runs, doubles, total bases, extra-base hits and walks. And most importantly, he led the Red Sox to two more World Series championships in 2007 and 2013, when he also won the World Series MVP.
RETIREMENT SEASONDavid announced his retirement on his 40th birthday, deciding to play one last season in 2016. During his “retirement road trip” playing in the other teams’ stadiums, David was honored for his career and accomplishments and given gifts on behalf of the teams. Despite getting older in age, David had one of the best seasons of his career and continued breaking records. He batted .315 for the season with 38 home runs and 127 RBI, which are the most by any player in his final season. He also hit 48 doubles, which led the league. For these accomplishments, he was elected to his 10th and final All Star Game as the starting designated hitter for the American League.
David and the Red Sox made one final push in the postseason to win another title but despite their best efforts, they came up short in the divisional round against the Cleveland Indians. After the end of the season, David continued to receive recognition for his achievements on the field in his last season. He received the 2016 Silver Slugger Award for DH, and was awarded the 2016 AL Hank Aaron Award which is given annually to the MLB player selected as the top hitter in each league, as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. His jersey was retired by the Red Sox in a pregame ceremony at Fenway on June 23, 2017 showing that his legacy in Fenway and Boston will last forever.