Big Papi, of course, was on all three championship squads: ’04, ’07 and ’13. He’s the only player to collect all three rings. Indeed, he’s outlasted his former manager (Terry Francona) and general manager (Theo Epstein). He’s a shoo-in for the Red Sox Hall of Fame and, if he keeps hitting for a few more years, a solid candidate for Cooperstown.
He’s had his big moments, both on and off the field. No one could forget his three walk-off hits in the 2004 postseason, his team-record 54 home runs in ’06, his ad-libbed comments after the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy or his postseason heroics later that same year. He’s come through again and again on baseball’s biggest stage, and he’s been deservedly recognized for that.
What makes Ortiz great, though, isn’t those accomplishments, but his stubborn refusal to quit. In my more dispassionate moments, I’ve been predicting Ortiz’ demise for about five or six years. He’s a bat-only player, and history shows that guys who can’t play the field at all are usually one step removed from collapse. Certainly, when he got off to a slow start in 2008 and followed it up with the worst season of his Red Sox career in 2009, I thought he was done.
Four years later, he’s hitting as well as he ever did.
I don’t know what the next few years will hold for Ortiz, but I’m glad he’ll spend them in Boston. He wouldn’t be David Ortiz anywhere else.