The 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame results were bound to be controversial no matter the outcome. Statistically one of the greatest hitters of all time, and one of the greatest pitchers of all time, both awaited the voters’ decision on their 10th and final Hall of Fame ballot.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did not get the nod. Instead, David Ortiz stole the headlines by becoming the newest member set to be enshrined in his first year of eligibility.
The man known as Big Papi will become the third designated hitter to enter the hall after belting 541 home runs and racking up 1,768 runs batted in over a twenty-year span. He is also the fourth Dominican player to receive the honor.
Ortiz did have to overcome a couple of obstacles in order to cement himself as part of baseball royalty. It is not a surprise that he was elected, but questions about how quickly a player that does not play in the field should be voted in is often a topic of conversation.
In 2009, it was also reported that Ortiz had failed a drug test back in 2003. The article released by the New York Times has linked his name to performance-enhancing drugs ever since. Even though nothing has been proven, it is still something that would likely pop into the back of voters’ minds when it came to making a final decision.
Ortiz easily overcame the question marks surrounding his Hall of Fame candidacy for a plethora of reasons. He helped the Red Sox break the curse of the Bambino by delivering to Boston their first World Series title in 86 years.
Ortiz ranks No. 70 all-time in home runs and No. 22 in RBIs. He is also the all-time leader in hits, RBIs, and home runs by a designated hitter. Big Papi made 10 All-Star teams, won seven Silver Slugger Awards, and led the league in RBIs three times.
The numbers are quite impressive, but the raw regular season statistics act as a silver lining around the main reasons Ortiz will be enshrined in July.
The case for Ortiz as a Hall of Fame player was made when the game or season was on the line. Big Papi was one of the most clutch hitters the game has ever seen. He won the 2013 World Series MVP and 2004 ALCS MVP in route to winning three World Series championships for a team that was not considered to be good.Embed from Getty Images
Among his many clutch moments were 11 regular season walk-off home runs, and two postseason walk-off blasts. His most iconic shot came in 2004 when the Red Sox made the greatest comeback in baseball history against their rival Yankees, the memory of which, likely still haunts New Yorkers to this day.
“So happy for David Ortiz” tweeted Don Orsillo, the TV broadcaster for the Red Sox from 2001-2015. “Had the honor of calling his 500th HR, countless walk-offs, and was the greatest clutch hitter I have ever seen. Mostly honored to call him a friend.”
Widely known as one of the most respected and well-liked players in Major League Baseball, Ortiz’s class and charisma, ultimately pushed him over the top, and punched his ticket into Cooperstown. People gravitated towards Big Papi, and in 2011 he received the Roberto Clemente Award for the player that “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”
The awards description perfectly depicts the type of player Ortiz was throughout his entire career. One of the most important aspects of winning in sports is cohesiveness amongst teammates. With Big Papi as one of the leaders of the Red Sox, it is easy to see why they were so successful.
The fans’ love for Ortiz has rewarded him with a post-playing career as an analyst for Fox Sports.
“Congratulations to my brother Big Papi on his election into Cooperstown today. Not only does he deserve to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he is also one of the most talented, generous, and gifted mentors in the game of baseball today,” Albert Pujols posted on his Twitter account after the announcement.
David Ortiz is a Hall of Famer on and off the diamond. He is just as much of a legend for his big smile, as coming back from a three to zero deficit against the Yankees in 2004.
The name Big Papi is synonymous with so many special moments in baseball, and although some may think his induction is premature now is a better time than ever to celebrate his career.
Benjamin Verbrugge is a student at CSU Dominguez Hill studying journalism. “Sports have brought me much joy throughout my life, and I want to be able to give a little back to something that has meant so much to me. I grew up in Los Angeles primarily following the Lakers and Dodgers, but I am also an avid fan of sporting events, news, and stories in general.”