By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer
Long time Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has announced that he will be retiring after the conclusion of the 2016 season.
The 19 year veteran has totaled 503 home runs and 1,641 runs batted in over his illustrious career. Regarded widely as one of the greatest clutch hitters in the game, Ortiz helped guide the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013.
Ortiz put up stellar number last season at the age of 39, clubbing 37 home-runs and posting 108 RBI’s, his highest total in those categories since 2007.
The highlight of his 2015 campaign was on Sept. 12 when he hit his five hundredth career home run off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore.
The nine time All-Star made the announcement on his fortieth birthday, saying that he was “ready to experience the next (chapter) in my life.” He went on to say, “I would like people to remember me as a guy that was just part of the family. A guy that was trying to do the best, not only on the field, with everyone around him.”
Ortiz signed with the Red Sox as a free agent before the 2003 season after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Minnesota Twins.
At the time of his signing, Ortiz had only ever been used as a platoon player at first base. It wasn’t until May of 2003 when he became an everyday player. That season, Ortiz hit 31 home runs and drove in 101 runs, finishing fifth in the AL MVP voting and earning him the popular nickname “Big Papi”. Ortiz would finish in the top five of MVP voting in each of the next four seasons.
The clutch gene that Ortiz possessed unleashed itself in the 2004 postseason. In game four of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, Ortiz hit a walk-off home run in the twelfth inning to force a game five. The next night, he had a walk off single in the fourteenth inning that sent the series back to New York. The Red Sox would become the first baseball team to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-7 series, and they eventually went on to win the World Series. These first two seasons in Boston solidified Ortiz as a fan favorite.
The 2006 season proved to be an historic one for Ortiz, as he would break the team record for home runs in a single season by hitting 54 homeruns. Boston would miss the playoffs that season, however Ortiz finished third in AL MVP voting and was named to the All-Star team for the third time in his career.
Ortiz has been a consistent force in the middle of the Red Sox lineup for years now and has solidified himself as one of the greatest to ever wear a Boston uniform. The debate still swirls as to whether or not he is a Hall of Famer.
His career numbers speak for themselves, but Performance Enhancing Drug suspicion along with the fact that he is strictly a designated hitter work against his case.
Nonetheless, David Ortiz will be remembered as one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time, and with a revamped Red Sox roster for the 2016 season, he may get one more chance to show off his postseason prowess.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.
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