It’s a big day for Boston every day, but especially yesterday, as David “Big Papi” Ortiz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you aren’t a Bostonian or you aren’t a fan of the National Pastime, you may not have a sense of why Bostonians are so happy. Papi joins Red Sox greats Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Wade Boggs, and Pedro Martinez, who also were elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. He was one of the game’s great designated hitters, batting .286 over his career, with 541 home runs.
Papi was the clutchest of clutch hitters. My favorite moment was his walk-off homer in extra innings in Game 4 of the American League pennant series against the Yankees. The Sox were down 3-0 and on the verge of elimination, and Big Papi’s homer kept the Sox in the series, which they eventually won 4-3, becoming the first team to win a pennant after being down by three games. The Sox went on to win their first World Series in 86 years, breaking the Curse of the Bambino.
But it’s hard to pick just one Big Papi moment. Remember this grand slam, from the 2013 pennant series against the Tigers?
Big Papi was a Boston hero off the field, too. He was well-known for his work with the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, and in 2013, after the Marathon Bombing, he gave a speech at Fenway Park that will one day have a place in “Great American Speeches: Boston Edition,” when he rallied a city that had just been through a lot:
“This is our (expletive) city,” Ortiz declared before the Red Sox’s first game at Fenway Park in wake of the tragedy and its ensuing manhunt. “And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
Big Papi will always have a special place in my heart and in the heart of Bostonians. I’m glad he’ll be immortalized in Cooperstown.