Top 10 Greatest David Ortiz Moments Honoring His 10 Years with the Red Sox
Ten years ago today, the Red Sox made one of the greatest and most important signings in franchise history.
On January 22, 2003, David Ortiz signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Red Sox.
In six seasons with the Twins, Ortiz played only 455 games and hit just .266 with 58 home runs and 238 runs batted in.
However, Ortiz improved each year from 2000 to 2002, and he was good enough in 2002 for the Red Sox to sign the big lefty bat.
In his final year with the Twins, Ortiz hit .272 and slugged .500 with 32 doubles, 20 HRs and 75 RBI.
But, 2002 likely wasn’t the first year the Red Sox noticed the young Dominican. On September 7, 2000, Ortiz hit a first inning grand slam off Ramon Martinez against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. It was his third home run and 16th RBI against Boston that season.
When the Red Sox signed Ortiz, his role was to be a part-time designated hitter and first baseman.
However, the former Twin’s role played a major factor in ending the 86-year-old curse and bringing two World Series back to Boston.
The following slides celebrate "Big Papi's" 10 greatest moments since he signed with the Red Sox exactly 10 years ago.
10. Ortiz Outplays Jeremy Giambi, Becomes Full-Time Starting Designated Hitter
As mentioned in the introduction, David Ortiz wasn't expected to be the full-time designated hitter for the Red Sox entering the 2003 season.
He had to compete with Jeremy Giambi for the job.
However, that didn’t take long.
After June 1, Ortiz became the full-time DH. Entering June, Giambi hit just .191 with four doubles, five home runs and 13 runs batted in. On the other hand, Ortiz hit .271 with 12 doubles, two homers and 19 runs batted in before the new month.
After hitting better in the first couple months, Ortiz closed out the season as the starting DH and played 96 more games after June 1. Giambi played only 18 more games after June 1, and he has not recorded an MLB at-bat since 2003 with the Red Sox.
The demise of the younger Giambi brother allowed Big Papi to play full time. Ortiz certainly took advantage of his new role.
In the final three months of the season, Ortiz crushed 27 HRs and had 67 RBI. He finished with a .288 AVG, .592 SLG, 39 doubles, 31 HRs and 101 RBI.
Since earning the full-time starting role after June 1, 2003, Ortiz hasn't looked back. He's become the most dominant designated hitter of the last decade and one of the best DHs of all time.
His domination all started with having to outplay Jeremy Giambi.
9. Ortiz Clubs First of Many Walk-Off Hits with the Red Sox
Almost two months after becoming the full-time designated hitter, David Ortiz recorded his first walk-off hit with the Red Sox.
On July 26, 2003, Ortiz hit a walk-off single off Yankees' reliever Armando Benitez.
His pinch-hit single reached the Green Monster and plated Jeremy Giambi with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Ortiz didn't even start, because he was 0-for-20 lifetime against Mike Mussina entering the game, according to ESPN.com. However, he made a big impact in the game when Grady Little called upon Ortiz to pinch hit against a different pitcher.
The walk-off hit would be Ortiz's first of many with the Red Sox. He would also hit several more walk-offs against the Yankees—which will be addressed later.
The trend of Ortiz hitting walk-offs eventually earned him the title as "the greatest clutch-hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox."
His clutch trend with the Red Sox all started in July 2003 against the Yankees.
Honorable Mention: Ortiz Has Trademark Fight with Jay-Z
David Ortiz was a Yankee killer, and one world-famous Yankee fan tried to bring down the Red Sox slugger.
Jay-Z has "99 problems" and one of them was the Red Sox star stealing his trademark.
In April 2010, Jay-Z and business partner Juan Perez sued Ortiz over his nightclub name, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The Red Sox star opened a nightclub in the Dominican Republic called "Forty-Forty." However, Jay-Z owned a line of "sports lounges" named "40/40 Club."
The two similar names caused Jay-Z’s business "marketplace confusion and damage," according to the report, so they sued Ortiz.
The "40/40 Club" refers to an exclusive group of baseball players who hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in a single season.
Although Ortiz is the only Red Sox player to hit 40-plus homers in three straight seasons, he's never come close to stealing 40 bases in a season. In fact, his season-high total is just three stolen bases, and Ortiz has 11 career swipes.
The lawsuit added to the Boston-New York rivalry, but, in the end, Ortiz was still the big winner in the rivalry. He changed the name of his club, but he’s been a Yankee killer for 10 seasons with the Red Sox.
8. Big Papi Beats Young Sluggers, Wins 2010 Home Run Derby
Despite being 35 years old and eight years older than the other finals contestant, Ortiz was the last man standing in the 2010 Home Run Derby.
The veteran designated hitter clubbed 11 home runs and outslugged Hanley Ramirez in the final round.
Ortiz was the oldest competitor and still hoisted the trophy in the end.
"[I'm] too old doing this," Ortiz joked after the derby, according to MLB.com. “It was good that they put "me towards the end, because I get tired pretty easy when I hit and shut it down for a while."
Ortiz finished with 32 home runs on the night. His longest homer traveled 478 feet.
The 2010 Home Run Derby is just one example of Big Papi defying his age and hitting well late into his career.
The 37-year-old hit .318 with 23 HRs and 60 RBI over just 90 games in 2012. He also clubbed 61 HRs and 198 RBI in the two seasons before that.
As long as the five-time Silver Slugger Award winner is healthy, he’s one of the best sluggers in the league. If he hits as well as he did in 2012, Ortiz could get one last Home Run Derby appearance in his final two years.
7. Ortiz Hits 300th Home Run with the Red Sox, Joins Exclusive List
David Ortiz joined an exclusive list with some of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history in 2011.
On May 21, 2011, Ortiz hit his 300th home run with the Red Sox. In bottom of the fourth with Kevin Youkilis on base, Big Papi hit a two-run shot off Carlos Zambrano.
The home run gave him 300 total in his career with the Red Sox. Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans are the only other Red Sox players to hit at least 300 home runs with the franchise.
Ortiz has been one of the league's most consistent power hitters since 2003. He's averaged 34.3 home runs per season since joining the Red Sox.
If he hits 57 more home runs with the Red Sox, he'll join the 400 club. Williams and Yaz are the only members of that exclusive club.
Ortiz just needs 28.5 home runs per season in the next two years to join that elite company of Red Sox all-time greats.
6. Ortiz Gets His Second Ring, Records 17 Hits in 2007 Postseason
David Ortiz had one of his best seasons in 2007. He posted an incredible .332/.445/.621 AVG/OBP/SLG split and hit 52 doubles, 35 home runs and 117 runs batted in, as well.
Those numbers were great enough to help lead the Red Sox to the playoffs.
Ortiz hit .370 and slugged .696 with six doubles, three home runs, 10 runs batted in and an incredible .508 on-base percentage in the 2007 playoffs.
The lefty slugger recorded a hit in each of the first nine games, and 17 total in the entire postseason.
In the World Series, Ortiz hit .333 (5-for-15) with three doubles and four runs batted in. He even played first base in Games 3 and 4 in Colorado.
The 2007 playoffs is just another example of Ortiz being one of the "clutchest hitters" in franchise history. He significantly contributed to the Red Sox winning the 2007 World Series.
Honorary Mention: Ortiz Charges the Mound Against Kevin Gregg
Not all of David Ortiz's blows come in the form of a home run or walk-off hit.
In the beginning of what seemed to be a normal night, an Orioles pitcher allowed a three-run home run to the Red Sox slugger. However, hours later, another Orioles pitcher almost allowed an upper cut to the face from the big designated hitter.
On July 8, 2011, Ortiz charged the mound against Kevin Gregg in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Orioles closer threw three straight inside fastballs to the eight-time All-Star.
Ortiz walked toward the mound before being restrained by the home plate umpire and the Orioles catcher. On the next pitch, he swung at an inside, 3-0 fastball and popped up to center field.
Gregg took offense to Ortiz swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a seven-run lead, so he taunted the batter as he walked toward first.
Ortiz immediately responded to the pitcher’s gestures and charged the mount.
Both players could not connect on their haymakers, and both team’s benches cleared and separated the two.
Ortiz’s first blow of the night was a first inning, three-run home run. His second blow of the night was almost an upper cut that knocked out Gregg.
The video of the full at-bat and melee can be seen here, via MLB.com.
5. Ortiz Hits Home Run in Game One of 2004 World Series
David Ortiz continued his clutch hitting in the first game of the 2004 World Series.
On October 23, 2004, the Red Sox were playing in their first World Series since 1986. On top of that, the "cursed" team hadn’t won the final series since 1918.
Ortiz powered the first runs of the series for the Red Sox.
The 2004 ALCS MVP crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to give the Red Sox an early 3-0 lead against the Cardinals.
The home run carried over the momentum and magic from the previous two series.
Ortiz hit the home run to spark a four-win comeback in Game 4 of the ALCS. One week later, he hit the first home run to spark a four-game sweep and the Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years.
Big Papi also hit an RBI single later in the night, finished the game with four runs batted in and accumulated 19 RBI in the 2004 playoffs.
At the time, Ortiz’s 19 runs batted in tied the record for most RBI in a single postseason.
4. Ortiz’s Hits Walk-Off Home Run, Sends Red Sox to 2004 ALCS
David Ortiz began his tear of the 2004 playoffs in Game 3 of the ALDS.
Entering the game, Ortiz was 2-for-5 with no extra base hits, one RBI and five walks. Opposing pitchers should have keep walking the slugger to keep him from getting big hits like the one on this night.
In the bottom of the ninth, Big Papi stepped to the plate with Pokey Reese on base and no outs. Instead of walking the slugger—who was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI earlier in the game—Jarrod Washburn challenged him.
On October 8, 2004, Ortiz hit a walk-off, two-run home run over the Green Monster to send the Red Sox to the ALCS. It was his fourth hit, third extra-base hit and third run batted in for the game.
After the game, the hero proudly reasserted his team being full of "idiots."
"We're all idiots here," Ortiz said after the win, according to Yahoo! Sports. "We all have fun. We all hug, kiss, grab, whatever."
The walk-off home run was just a hint of magic Ortiz and the group of "idiots" would carry throughout the postseason.
Honorable Mention: Ortiz Wins 2011 Roberto Clemente Award
David Ortiz became a hero for his clutch play and powerful swing. However, he is also a hero for his community service.
On October 20, 2011, the eight-time All-Star won the Roberto Clemente Award "for his contributions on and off the field."
Commissioner Bud Selig said the following of the award winner, according to MLB.com:
"David's remarkable commitment to helping children receive essential pediatric care in the United States and the Dominican Republic makes him a wonderful choice for this honor. The legacy of the great Roberto Clemente lives on through the selfless actions of players like David and so many of his peers."
The David Ortiz Children’s Fund was founded in 2005. The foundation raises funds and provides heart surgeries for children with pediatric care in both the Dominican Republic and the U.S.
The fund raised more than $1.5 million in 2010, and Ortiz donated $100,000 of his own money, according to the report.
The charitable hitter also hosts yearly celebrity golf tournaments and donates Red Sox tickets to patients of Mass General Hospital for Children.
Ortiz is one of the best hitters in the league, but his charitable service is also very praiseworthy.
3. Ortiz Break’s Club Record, Smashes 54 Home Runs in 2006
In 2004, David Ortiz helped lead a team win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. In 2006, he broke a record that lasted 68 years.
On September 21, 2006, Ortiz hit his 51st home run of the season, which came off Twins ace Johan Santana in the bottom of the first inning.
The home run broke Jimmie Foxx's record of 50 in 1938.
It was also rare for Ortiz—a left-handed hitter—to take one of the best left-handed pitchers in the league deep. Santana won the AL Cy Young that season and finished with a 19-6 record, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 245 strikeouts.
That didn’t stop Big Papi
Ortiz also hit his 52nd homer of the season in the bottom of the seventh and finished with a franchise record 54 home runs at the end of 2006.
Despite crushing 54 home runs and 137 RBIs that season, Ortiz finished second in the MVP voting to Alex Rodriguez.
Big Papi would finish in the top five of the AL MVP voting five times over his career. He never won the award.
However, he was the 2004 ALCS MVP.
2. Ortiz Hits Walk-Off Single in Game 5, Continues 2004 ALCS Comeback
David Ortiz recorded his second walk-off in as many nights on October 18, 2004.
The slugger blooped a walk-off single up the middle in the bottom of the 14th off Esteban Loaiza. The hit gave the Red Sox a 5-4 win in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS.
The series was back in New York, and Boston now trailed 3-2.
Ortiz opened up the scoring with an RBI single in the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the eighth, the lefty stepped up again and crushed a solo shot to bring the team within one run.
Six innings later, he sent the Red Sox fans home happy after a walk-off single.
The clutch hitter finished the ALCS with a .387 AVG, .742 SLG, triple, three HRs and 11 RBI. He was named the 2004 ALCS MVP after the Red Sox won four games in a row and completed the comeback.
Ortiz's second-straight walk-off hit kept the series alive. The at-bat was even named the seventh greatest moment in Fenway Park history, according to ESPN Boston.
1. The Walk-Off Home Run That Sparked The Greatest Comeback in Baseball History
Of all of David Ortiz's 10 career walk-off home runs, none are as exhilarating as the one he hit on October 17, 2004.
The walk-off home run completed arguably the greatest game in baseball history. First, it was the stolen base in the bottom of the ninth. Then, it was the walk-off in extra innings.
Ortiz hit a walk-off, two-run home run off Paul Quantrill in the bottom of the 12th.
The home run sealed the win in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. The home run also inspired hope for the Red Sox to overcome a series 3-0 deficit against their arch rival, the New York Yankees.
ESPN Boston ranked "Papi's Signature Walk-Off" the number three greatest moment in Fenway Park history.
Without a doubt, "Papi's Signature Walk-Off" is his great moment since signing with the Red Sox exactly 10 years ago.
Ortiz is the all-time leader for designated hitters in home runs (353) and runs batted in (1,149). However, none home runs and runs batted in are as memorable as his walk-off, two-run homer in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
David Ortiz was only supposed to serve as a part-time designated hitter and first baseman in 2003. However, he served as "the greatest clutch-hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox" with his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the ALCS.