Red Sox legend David Ortiz elected into Baseball Hall of Fame on first try

Red Sox legend David Ortiz has been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced through MLB Network on Tuesday evening.

In his first year on the ballot, Ortiz received 307 — or 77.9% — of a possible 394 votes, just surpassing the 75% threshold needed to get inducted. The 46-year-old was the only player to be voted in by the writers this year.

Immediately trailing Ortiz on this year’s ballot were Barry Bonds (66%), Roger Clemens (65.2%), Scott Rolen (63.2%), and Curt Schilling (58.6%). All three of Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling were in their final year of eligibility and will therefore be removed from the writers’ ballot. Rolen, on the other hand, has five years of eligibility remaining.

Schilling, of course, was a former teammate of Ortiz’s. Other former Red Sox players on the ballot who came up short this year include Billy Wagner (51%), Manny Ramirez (28.9%), Jonathan Papelbon (1.3%), A.J. Pierzynski (0.5%), Carl Crawford (0%), and Jake Peavy (0%). Since they failed to receive at least 5% of the vote, Papelbon, Pierzynski, Crawford, and Peavy will also be removed from the writers’ ballot.

By being elected in the fashion he was on Tuesday, Ortiz becomes the fifth former Red Sox player to earn the title of first-ballot Hall of Famer and joins the likes of Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, Carl Yastrzemski, and Ted Williams in doing so.

Looking at the bigger picture, Ortiz will be the 58th player enshrined in Cooperstown who got voted in on their first try. He will also become the 38th former Sox player to be elected into the Hall of Fame and will be the 11th to don a Red Sox cap on his plaque.

Ortiz will be formally be inducted into the Hall at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown on July 24. He will be part of a seven-man class that also consists of Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Buck O’Neil, all of whom were previously elected by the Veterans Committee.

A former international signee of the Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 1992, Ortiz was traded to the Twins in 1996 and debuted with Minnesota the following September.

After spending six years with the Twins, Ortiz was released at the conclusion of the 2022 season and subsequently signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox leading up to the start of the 2023 campaign.

As a member of the Red Sox, Ortiz established himself as one of the most feared left-handed hitters in all of baseball. The vaunted slugger became one of the most clutch hitters in the sport over the course of his 14 seasons (2003-2006) with Boston.

For his regular season career, Ortiz as a lifetime .286/.380/.552 hitter who clubbed 541 home runs and collected 1,768 RBIs over 2,408 total games (10,091 plate appearances) while being named to 10 American League All-Star teams and winning seven Silver Slugger Awards.

When it came time to play October baseball, that is when the legend of “Big Papi” really began to grow. In 76 career postseason games with the Red Sox, Ortiz batted a ridiculous .291/.415/.560 with 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 51 runs scored.

In the process of helping the Red Sox win three World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013, Ortiz earned ALCS MVP honors against the Yankees in ’04 and World Series MVP honors against the Cardinals in ’13.

In addition to these accolades, Ortiz also won two Hank Aaron Awards, set the Red Sox’ single-season home run record (54) in 2006, and hit a record 38 homers during his final season in 2016.

While his on-field accomplishments speak for themselves, Ortiz getting the call to the Hall during his first year on the ballot was far from a guarantee. Not only did Ortiz draw criticism for being an offense-first designated hitter for the majority of his career, but he also allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

That being said, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has since come to the defense of Ortiz, stating in 2016 that the veteran slugger may not have actually tested positive back then and that he did not test positive from 2004 on.

Regardless of that, though, Ortiz will nonetheless be immortalized in Cooperstown this summer. The Red Sox were already planning on officially inducting Ortiz into their own Hall of Fame this season, but it seems likely they will now have more in store for the franchise icon.

(Picture of David Ortiz: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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