Quick Bit: After three World Series championships and one of the greatest careers as a designated hitter, David Ortiz was enshrined in Cooperstown.
David Ortiz always keeps it real.
When MLB fans think of Ortiz, they remember his impassioned speech to a city recoiling from a terrorist attack in 2013. They remember him rallying the Red Sox during Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS. And of course, they remember the game-winning postseason hits in 2004.
As he was introduced to the crowd in Cooperstown on Sunday ahead of his Hall of Fame induction speech, Ortiz thanked God for his career and then told everyone what they already knew: “I’m real.”
Ortiz, speaking alternately in English and Spanish, said he has been thinking about his speech since he received the call in January that he would be enshrined in Cooperstown as the first designated hitter to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He began the speech by thanking his family and those who have believed in him throughout his career, and who helped shape him into the player and person he became.
“I’ve been thinking about how I got to this stage, Cooperstown, today. I’ve been thinking about my life, my career, and most of all, the people that believed in me,” Ortiz said. “I’ve also been thinking about the lesson I’ve been taking from their support about the power that we all have to make a possible difference in this world,” he said.
A dual citizen of the United States and Dominican Republic, Ortiz thanked the U.S. for welcoming him with open arms when he was young and allowing him to develop and achieve his dreams. And he invited Americans to visit his home country.
“And to all my American friends, consider this an open invitation to visit my island, the Dominican Republic. It’s a special place,” Ortiz said. “We have a lot of good and happy people, beautiful beaches where you can go when you guys are freezing here.”
Ortiz discussed how he became a Hall of Famer. He looked back at his time before the Red Sox and his first MLB team, the Twins. He discussed Ramon de los Santos, the scout who discovered Ortiz in the Dominican Republic and led the Mariners to sign him when he was 16.
He credited a number of coaches, including Dave Jauss, a winter league coach in the Dominican Republic, who would later be reunited with Ortiz in Boston as an advance scout from 2003-05.
“He always used to tell us, ‘You have to go hard, can’t take things for granted,'” Ortiz said. “He was hard on me, but I know he was coming from a good place. On the last day of the season, he told me, ‘The reason why I was so hard on you is because of all the players here, I think you are the one that can have an amazing career in the big leagues. Go and get it, big boy.'”
The Minnesota years
Ortiz was traded from the Mariners to the Twins in 1996 before he made his MLB debut in 1997. He thanked the minor league managers who helped him build up the confidence that helped him reach the majors.
Upon reaching Minnesota, Ortiz spent parts of six seasons with the organization before he was released following the 2002 season. He thanked the Twins organization and said that even though his career there didn’t turn out how he expected, he learned that when he would get his next chance to play in the big leagues, he would make the most of the opportunity.
He also congratulated Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, fellow members of the 2022 Hall of Fame class, who he said were mentors to him while he was in Minnesota.
Ortiz credited lessons he learned from Paul Molitor and Kirby Puckett, the latter of whom was the inspiration behind Ortiz’s selection of the number 34 while he played in Boston.
The Boston years
Then, he turned to the team with which he spent 14 years: the Red Sox. He thanked the owners and the front-office members who brought him to Boston.
“That organization made me the man that I am today. They educate me about the game, but they also educate me about my life. Community service, connecting with people, the Jimmy Fund, the Children’s Fund. That’s why I started the David Ortiz Children’s Fund that help provide life-saving heart surgery,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz talked about how he wanted to bring a team together in Boston, and how it began with teammates being honest and open with one another. He gave shoutouts to some of those teammates, including Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis and Tim Wakefield, as well as his two managers, Terry Francona and John Farrell.
He recalled a time when Dustin Pedroia, his 5-9 teammate whom the 6-3 Ortiz nicknamed “Pee Wee,” confronted him in the dugout during a slump.
“My smaller teammate, where he at, Pedroia? Pee Wee. Pee Wee grabbed me by the neck one time, and he told me, ‘If you keep on pulling the ball, I’m going to whoop you,'” Ortiz said. “And guess what? Big Papi got caught up on fire.
“My teammates always were there for me, and that’s something that I always want to appreciate. In life, remember, our teammates are our second family.”
Ortiz spoke of the memories he made while he played in Boston, from the beginning of his career in the city in 2003 to his final campaign in 2016. He said that, during his final at-bat at Fenway Park, it felt as though all of New England surrounded him.
“It’s been almost 20 years since my first day in Boston. We have some incredible memories,” Ortiz said. “When I think about Boston, I definitely think about 2004, 2007 and of course 2013, after the city was shaken by the Marathon bombing, I have never seen a community bounce back and reunite like Boston.”
Ortiz ended his speech by stressing the importance of believing in others. Throughout his speech, he highlighted how he had supporters who always expected big things out of him and believed in his ability.
“I always try to live my life in a way that supports others. That make a positive influence in the world. And if my story can remind of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. You can change their future,” Ortiz said. “Just like so many people who believed in me. To everyone that believed in me, from my family to coaches to teammates to fans, know I could not have done this without you. My Hall of Fame plaque represents each one of you, and I’m going to thank you guys for the rest of my life.”
Originally found on Sporting News Read More