What emotions did you feel when you read this?
Sources: David Ortiz will retire at end of 2016 season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 17, 2015
Sadness at the notion that you won’t get to watch one of the greatest Red Sox of all time for much longer? Happiness that he’s going out on his own terms? Anger at all the 1,523 Edgar Martinez references that followed? Dread at a sudden and acute since of your own mortality?
Us too. They’ll be a time to parse exactly what this means for the Red Sox. For now, we simply bring you a handful of Ortiz’s most impactful moments and what they’ve meant to our staff. Enjoy.
April 2013: Ortiz’s First Red Sox Homer
While the home runs and key hits that Ortiz had in the 2004 ALCS certainly standout, it is his series-clinching bomb off Jarrod Washburn in that year’s ALDS that precipitated that famous ALCS matchup with the Yankees that stands out for me. In the 12th inning with a man on and two outs, Angels manager Mike Scioscia got a little cute, relieving the then-elite Fransisco Rodriguez with lefty Jarrod Washburn, who to that point in the season had only been used as a starter. Something, something, platoon advantage. Such tactics simply did not matter when facing Ortiz at the heights he was at during the 2004 playoffs. He blasted Washburn’s first pitch over the monster, ending the game and the series, and I will never forget it. – Christopher Teeter
2004 ALCS Game 4
There are countless memorable David Ortiz moments, but this, to me, is the biggest of them all. This is the home run that sparked the greatest comeback in the history of sports. This is the home run that made a tortured fanbase believe again. This is the home run that inspired a sixth-grade boy from Massachusetts to wear No. 34 in Little League that spring. Sure, this wasn’t the first big home run Ortiz hit with the Red Sox, but this is the one that solidified his place among the game’s great clutch hitters, and ignited an improbable run that ended an 86-year championship drought. – Nick Canelas
2004 ALCS Game 7
This highlight-reel home run sums up everything Ortiz has been about during his time in Boston: putting the team on his back and willing them to new heights. After countless clutch hits by David Ortiz to keep this series going the Red Sox still had the unenviable task of going into Yankee Stadium to play Game 7 in front of a rowdy Bronx crowd. This would have fazed any other player, but not the great Big Papi. Ortiz came up to the plate with two outs in the first inning and crushed this two-run bomb to give the Sox the early lead. He made me feel for the first time in my life that things were different now and we could, just maybe, finish these Yankees off. He put the city of Boston on his back and said with one swing, “We are finishing this thing”. – Jake Deveraux
2004 World Series Game 1
Nothing about this home run seems fair. Not only does it appear to skew to the foul side of the Pesky Pole, this one drove home, in addition to three runs, the fact that the Red Sox’s run to the title wouldn’t fizzle out against the Cardinals. Ortiz’s historically unprecedented hot streak, carried over from the ALCS, needed only to last four additional wins for the Sox to toss off the Curse of the Bambino; it lasted more than a decade, and continues. Three years after this, he’d win again. Six years after that, he’d basically will the Sox to the title, batting .688 in the World Series. As good as the 2004 ALCS was, it was still Off-Broadway. This was the real thing. That ball was on the left side of the pole, but nothing about Ortiz has been fair. – Bryan Joiner
The Red Sox faced the Royals early on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the kind of afternoon baseball was made for. Normally afternoons like this, especially early in the baseball season tend to melt away as the season goes on. Teams are new, the standings are as volatile as an infant’s sleep schedule, and early success or failure is dwarfed by the enormity of the season as it unspools. But this day was different. This day was memorable because it was the Red Sox first day back, it was the city’s first time coming out from hiding, and it was the day that in his pre-game speech, David Ortiz told us it was okay to be angry, proud, and defiant, as long as we did it together.
Like a great song you hear for the first time but feels like you’ve known it always, or a great piece of writing that points out something fundamental, something it feels like you knew but just never put into words, Ortiz stood in front of Boston and pointed out what we already knew in our hearts to be true: Boston is a great city and it absolutely refuses to be pushed around by murderous assholes.
Then the Red Sox went out and beat the Royals 4-3. Ortiz had two hits in that game because of course he did. The big hit was Daniel Nava’s three run homer in the eighth to erase a 2-1 deficit, but as amazing as winning the game was, winning wasn’t the point that day. Being there was, and being there together. That’s why Ortiz coarse yet from-the-heart sentiment that reflected Boston like a mirror continues to stay with me, and will. – Matt Kory
2013 ALCS Game 2
I was there, in the exact section above Torii Hunter’s flailing legs, courtesy an early birthday present: an ALCS ticket from my girlfriend (you bet your ass we’re still together). I did not even know Hunter went over the wall until I got home that evening, because Fenway Park erupted the moment the ball cleared the bullpen wall. I had never been a part of anything like that before, haven’t since and doubt I ever will be again. Fenway was shaking, and I was shaking with it, hugging strangers and lifting friends and jumping and screaming. That entire at-bat, my friends were the optimists:
“If anyone can do it, it’s Ortiz,” they said.
“It can’t happen again,” I said out loud.
“Please please please please please,” I said in my head.
And then he did it. This wonderful, larger-than-life athlete who I’ve followed for my entire teenage and adult life proved he was real right in front of my eyes. Super heroes exist. I couldn’t stop talking about it for days. I haven’t since. It might be the very first thing I tell my first-born some day. “I was there, you know. I saw David Ortiz being David Ortiz.” I already can’t wait for his statue. – Ben Carsley