With David Ortiz being officially elected into the Hall of Fame earlier this week, getting in on his first ballot and becoming the first Boston Red Sox star to be inducted since Pedro Martinez in 2015, the topic for this week’s roundtable was incredibly easy for me to come up. For this week, I simply asked staff to share their most treasured Ortiz memory as Red Sox fans. I should point out, though, that I took the 2013 post-Marathon speech off the table. That’s certainly not because it’s not worthy, but rather I felt like most everyone would have picked that and I wanted people to switch it up a little.
Bayleigh Von Schneider
I would say, for me, my most treasured moment from David Ortiz’s illustrious career would have to be his 12th inning game winning, two-run home run off Paul Quantrill to win Game Four of the 2004 ALCS. How can you ever forget, “Ortiz into deep right field. Back is Sheffield. We’ll see you later tonight.” I am very thankful that I was not only alive for the 2004 playoffs, but that I was old enough to remember and share in those moments with my mother. David Ortiz is an extremely important part of Red Sox lore, and there are just so many important moments, but nothing will feel like the hope he gave to my teenage self that early October morning.
I’m sure I will not be the only one to say this but my favorite David Ortiz moment was the grand slam in game two of the 2013 ALDS against the Tigers. Everyone thinks of clutch when they hear David Ortiz and for me, that was his signature moment (though he has a catalog of them). He went on to have one of the best World Series performances in MLB history and continue his Hall of Fame legacy.
My single most treasured David Ortiz memory comes from the ridiculous run he went on during the 2013 postseason. More specifically, the Red Sox were in serious danger of heading back to Detroit down two games to none against the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.
Trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning of Game Two at Fenway Park, the Sox received a series-altering boost from Ortiz when he crushed a game-tying grand slam off Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit. Whether it be the way the ball left Ortiz’s bat, the way Torii Hunter dove into the Red Sox bullpen in an attempt to catch the ball, the way Steve Horgan and the rest of the crowd reacted to the ball clearing the fence (and Hunter’s glove), or the way Dave O’Brien screamed, “David Ortiz! David Ortiz! David Ortiz!” on the radio, that sequence of events still gives me goosebumps to this day.
It also helps that the Red Sox went on to beat the Tigers in six games before doing the very same to the Cardinals in the World Series that October. Ortiz, of course, was named MVP of that Fall Classic.
My most treasured David Ortiz moment has to be his series-shifting slam in Game One of the 2013 ALCS. As the Sox were down 5-1, I felt a sense of doom surrounding the series. But after Papi hit that game-tying home run, I knew momentum was on our side, and we were about to witness another historic postseason from Ortiz. I was still a kid at the time, and the 2013 season was probably the second year in my life that I really paid attention to the Red Sox and felt tied to their every win and loss. Watching that game with my dad in the living room, I knew Ortiz was a special player, even if I hadn’t been quite old enough to appreciate his abounding heroics in the past. This moment cemented him as one of my favorite Red Sox players of all time, and allowed young me to bask in the glory of his greatness over the last four years of his illustrious career.
David Ortiz first showed us what he could do in 2003. It seemed like all summer he was on base or collecting a big hit. But the real magic didn’t start for another year. In the 2004 ALDS, against the Angels, the legend of David Ortiz really began. In the 7th inning of the Game 3 the Red Sox gave up five runs - including a grand slam by future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr. - which sent the game into extra innings. Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez had pitched a scoreless inning in both the eighth and ninth innings. He was 27 pitches into his outing coming into the 10th with the score tied 6-6. Three pitches to Johnny Damon and he was aboard. Two more pitches to Mark Bellhorn and Damon was forced out at second. Pokey Reese pinch ran. Manny Ramirez, a star in his own right, was struck out on four pitches. Just as the Angels had gotten to Vlad the Sox got to Ortiz. With one on and two out, K-Rod fired his final pitch of the season. And David Ortiz crushed it. A two-run, walk-off, home run. The Red Sox knocked off the Angels and advanced to the ALCS.
My most treasure memory of Ortiz’ career is just generally how ‘clutch’ he was in the postseason. While being clutch cannot really be calculated, when it comes to Ortiz, he must have been one of the most-feared batters in the box during those Red Sox playoff runs.
David Ortiz had a lot of clutch hits in his career and a lot of them were home runs, but my most treasured of them all was the bloop single he muscled into center field to drive in Johnny Damon for the game-winning run in game five of the 2004 ALCS. Oritz’s walkoff home run in game four of that series and his grand slam against Detroit in the 2013 ALCS might be more iconic, but that RBI single was what made me go from being glad the Red Sox didn’t get swept to believing they could rally back from down 3-0. Ortiz was jammed on the pitch and made light contact, but he somehow got a hit when the Red Sox needed it. It was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen on a baseball field and from then on, I always believed Ortiz would deliver in those situations. Lucky for the Red Sox, a lot of the time he did.
My favorite David Ortiz moment is the entirety of October 18, 2004, which encompasses his walk-off hits of Games Four and Five of the American League Championship Series. People forget this, but the Red Sox were down 3 games to 0, and no team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a baseball playoff series. Ortiz had the game-winning hits in both Game 4 and Game 5, and they were both during the hours of October 18th. Sounds crazy, right? But it happened. I promise you it happened. You probably never heard of this until now but it’s true.
Wait, you HAD heard of that? Because it’s the best day in Red Sox history? Yeah that makes sense.
To call it my most treasured David Ortiz moment feels odd, because I’m sure it’s a night that he would rather forget, but it stands out vividly in my head because I was there. On July 29, 2013 the Sox were in Baltimore and that’s a big deal because, having grown up in D.C., Camden Yards was one of the only places I could see my team play with any regularity. Boy, did I get my money’s worth that night.
In the top of the seventh, with Boston leading 7-2, David Ortiz struck out and jawed about balls and strikes with home plate umpire Tim Timmons (hilarious name) on his way back to the dugout. Timmons eventually ejected Ortiz, who then smashed a dugout phone in a fit of rage. It was pretty funny, especially because it seemed like Dustin Pedroia had finally calmed him down, only for Ortiz to just whale on that poor phone a split second later.
My favorite part was the Red Sox fans chanting “PA-PI, PA-PI, PA-PI” above the jeers of Orioles fans trying to drown us out. In a relatively mundane game, played smack-dab in the middle of a spectacular season, this is the moment I hold closest to my heart because it was a complete 180 from the goofy Big Papi that I had known. I had to be reminded of the raw strength that existed in that smiley, teddy-bear-like superstar. It was also the first and only ejection I’ve ever seen live and I doubt any I see in the future will top it.
There is a lot to choose from obviously but I’m going to go with the back-to-back walk-offs in the ‘04 ALCS because this felt like where everything that followed began. Dominant postseason performances, constant clutch hits, slapping the Yankees in the face for over a decade. At every turn, the Red Sox found ways to give those big games against the Yankees away and we needed someone to step up and end it with our backs against the wall, Big Papi did it twice and opened the flood gates for the last 20 years of success. It also happened at a formative time in my life as a youngster when I was “allowed” to stay up late to watch the end of these marathon games past midnight only because it was playoffs so it made it feel extra special.
“He’s never homered against Benoit in his career. Bases loaded, two out. Hard hit into right ... back, at the wall ....... TIE GAME! Big Papi ... a grand slam!”
Say what you want about Joe Buck but you can’t set up an all-time moment much better than that. I’ve watched that clip no less than 100 times. The Red Sox narrowly escaped being no-hit by Anibal Sanchez in Game One of the 2013 ALCS. They were being no-hit through 5 and 2⁄3 innings AGAIN in Game Two by Max Scherzer. Until the bottom of the eighth, the entire weekend had been a truly miserable experience until David Ortiz saved the season, as he had done so many times before. The only thought that anyone had in their mind that entire inning was “If they can get three guys on, David’s up sixth.”
I was fortunate enough to be at Game Two, sitting on the third-base side. Off the bat, the way that Torii Hunter was tracking that ball was terrifying; I had a bad feeling about it. I still wasn’t positive Hunter didn’t have the ball in his glove when he went head over heels into the Red Sox bullpen. Thankfully, it was (smoothly) in the bullpen catcher’s glove. I’ve never heard a single sports moment with a louder crowd and wonder if I ever will. Congratulations to David Ortiz, a deserving first-ballot Hall of Famer.
This is easy. During the 2013 ALCS I watched most of the games in the student union at Louisiana Tech on a projector screen. The fate of the series rested on Ortiz’s shoulders, already down 1-0 in the series and facing a four run deficit with two outs in the eighth with Justin Verlander on the road in game 3 stating you in the face. Papi sits back on the changeup, sends Torii Hunter over the fence, and I lose my mind. Luckily enough for me being a Red Sox fan was my gimmick back when so this was expected. I went back to my dorm that night to find that my roommate had snuck someone in. I woke them both up the next morning watching that highlight over and over again. It remains one of my favorite moments in franchise history.