As you very likely know, our very own beloved David Ortiz surpassed Harold Baines as the DH with the most hits in Major League Baseball history. On Wednesday night, in front of a half-full stadium in Seattle, Boston’s longtime favorite Red Sox stood on second base receiving a resounding standing ovation after collecting hit number 1,689 of his career.
Already holding the DH records for most runs scored, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits and RBIs, Ortiz likely reached one of the most coveted records of his career.
There is no doubting that Big Papi has had an interesting career that at times has become almost volatile with Boston. Being signed as a free agent in 2003, after 6 seasons in the Minnesota Twins’ system, Ortiz found a home in Boston. The height of his career as a Red Sox was clearly the 2004 season when the self-proclaimed “Idiots” were able to shock the world (including the betting odds) with alcohol on their breaths on the back of Manny Ramirez and Ortiz’s consistent ability to walk off with wins.
After the Championship hangover wore off, the Sox stumbled through two more seasons that ended early, though Boston fans barely noticed now having a Championship under their belt. In these two seasons, Ortiz smacked 103 homers, including the 54 in 2006 that put him in Boston folklore by overtaking the 68 year old team home run record formerly help by Jimmie Foxx.
After another Championship season in 2007, slightly overshadowed by new teammates Mike Lowell (World Series MVP) and Josh Beckett, Ortiz’s career seemed to put Red Sox Nation in an awkward place.
Papi recorded mostly dismal seasons post 2007, including numerous injuries and the New York Times report that Ortiz and Ramirez were on a list that remains sealed per court order showing they failed drug tests in 2003. This was when Boston came to begin questioning the loveable teddy bear they once proudly claimed their own.
Many seasons went on and ended with fans and media alike calling for the release of David Ortiz. The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, as more often than not, has always been one of Ortiz’s biggest critics. Each contract ended with questions from Sox fans in regards to the always tough decision between negotiating with your heart or your wallet.
With comments from former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein after his departure to Chicago, all signs would point to David Ortiz consistently being brought back to Boston more on the basis of fan draw more than what the owners really thought the big Dominican could do for the team.
However, the 2013 campaign has made up for everything. At the age of 37 years with 73 games under his belt on the season so far, Ortiz is batting .331 (2nd in the AL) with 19 homers and is heading to his ninth All Star Game appearance.
Hopefully however (and whenever) this partnership between David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox ends, it does so on a positive note. In the end, Big Papi is the big ol’ buddy all Bostonians have felt to be best friends with for a decade now and if the Sox were to end this like they do so many other relationships, with a boot to the ass and a slew of demeaning quotes in the media, the Nation would simply become jaded to any player-fan relationship ever again.