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Happy Belated David Ortiz Day

When a little known first baseman came to share time with Kevin Millar and Jeremy Giambi, one franchise changed forever.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe it’s been 16 years since the Red Sox and David Ortiz joined forces in one of the greatest signings in baseball history?

Before Big Papi started getting hit after hit in 2003 - not to mention his 2004 heroics - the Red Sox were associated with The Curse, chants of 1918, the ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs, Bucky “Bleeping” Dent and so on.

Yes, there was Ted Williams. And Nomar. And Pedro. And Tony Conigliaro. And Manny. But it was David Ortiz who would become the face of the new Red Sox. The winning Red Sox.

We knew him as the DH, but Big Papi was more than an on-field figure. More than his 541 home runs. More than his All-Star Game appearances or Home Run Derby crown, or three World Series rings.

When Boston itself experienced tragedy it was David Ortiz who was, in some ways, the physical representation of the spirit of our city.

Of course, he had those highlights too. Who will ever forget the reaction of the bullpen cop? The pure joy!

And now, even though his number is retired, Boston is still his city.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks for everything, Papi. Sincerely, Red Sox Nation