Thank you, Big Papi, for changing the city of Boston. That’s right. David Ortiz’ accomplishments go far beyond the numbers and even the rings. He did something for a fan base that needed a change in mindset and culture that goes far beyond the game of baseball. On the eve of Ortiz’ last regular season game, Boston is taking time to recognize everything Ortiz has done for the Red Sox. In today’s blog post, we’re going to discuss just how much of an impact he made. Today is about recognizing what one man did for the fan base of an entire city that has been unmatched by any other Boston athlete in history.
Let’s start by going back twelve years. Do you remember what it was like to be a Red Sox fan prior to the 2004 World Series? You know that you do, but you want to clear it from your memory. We all remember what it was like especially when we were at Fenway Park in games against the Yankees. We remember the “1918!” chants. Many of us may even remember the smirk that Yankees fans had on their faces as they invaded Fenway to mock the Red Sox and the fan base. Granted, Boston fans are strong and they didn’t really take it. However, there was just a cockiness that bothered us…and the worst part about it was that it was legitimate. We can relate to it because now we give that same smirk to New York Jets fans and others as we walk by.
We’re better than you and YOU know it.
Some of us may also remember going to Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. 2004 was finally supposed to be the year that the Red Sox took over and beat the Yankees. Their roster was loaded with talent. Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez. Yet, we sat there on an October Saturday Night at watched the home team go down 19-8. No fight at all. This was the dagger. The smirks turned into a laughable mockery that night. The curse was now officially real even for those of us who never believed in it.
Then David Ortiz happened.
Walkoff hits by Big Papi in Games 4 and 5 at Fenway Park changed everything. In two days, everything changed. This was different! We now had a guy on our side that came up big in the clutch moments as so many Yankees players had done in years past. This was now the guy no one wanted to face in a big game. We all know the story. The Red Sox went on to win the ALCS at Yankees Stadium in seven games. 86 years of frustration, disappointment, and heartbreaking losses spilled out at The House That Ruth Built. Make no mistake about it. There was no better night for the die-hard Boston Sports Fan than this one. No Super Bowl. No NBA Title. No World Series Title. This night topped them all! It was all started with what Ortiz did in Game 4 and 5.
We got rid of the smirk. That meant more than anything.
2004 certainly changed the perception of the Red Sox and their fan base. If we saw opposing teams fans, we would get a congratulations and even a hand shake. “Nice to finally win one, huh?” Oh yeah. Now there was this. Anyone can win once in 86 years. This was different though. This was a different type of team that was led by a different type of player.
2007 sealed it as Ortiz again led the Red Sox to another title. 2004 wasn’t a fluke. While there was no clutch hit that stood out in the playoffs that year, his steady hitting from start to finish is what led the team to a second title in four years. .332 with 35 homers and 117 RBI in the regular season. A .370 batting average in the postseason. Championship team led a by a championship player.
Ortiz continued to put up his 30 homers and 100 RBI consistently into his mid-late 30’s. The numbers were always there. However, with Ortiz, it wasn’t just about the numbers. It was about the fear he put into to other teams. When the game was on the line, no one wants to face this guy. The Red Sox never had never had a player like this. Ted Williams didn’t do it. Yaz didn’t either. Nomar and Boggs? Think again. No one made a bigger impact in the history of the Boston Red Sox than David Ortiz.
In 2013, the Red Sox were trailing 1-0 in ALCS and were down by four runs in the 8th inning in Game 2. Up comes David Ortiz. Now, we all know that Ortiz is a clutch hitter, but this was just asking too much. We’ll take a base hit or even a walk. Ortiz had other thoughts. He hit a grand slam to tie the game as the fans cheered and stood in awe. There’s no way that just happened! Oh yeah, and let’s top it off with a .688 batting average in a six game World Series winning the MVP.
Three World Series in ten years. Let’s make this clear: The Red Sox would be at year 98 of not winning a World Series without David Ortiz. Thought it was bad 12 years ago? Don’t even think about what it would be like now. Instead, 1918 is a distant memory. The smirks are gone. Now we give them. Why? Because we have David Ortiz and you don’t.
David Ortiz changed the entire experience and mindset of the Red Sox fans from a losing culture to a winning one. What he has done for Boston goes fan beyond the game of baseball. Being a Boston Sports Fan is much better than it was twelve years ago…and David Ortiz has had a lot to do with that.
Thank you, Papi.
Go get us one more…