Chris Ryan talks with Big Papi about his time in Boston, how he changed the trajectory of the Red Sox franchise, and how his career compares to Ted Williams. David Ortiz arrived without a great deal of fanfare in 2003. At first, Ortiz just watched how the other players did things while he was what in what he calls the “figure things out stage”. He finished the season with 31 home runs, 101 RBI and a .288 average, finishing fifth in the American League MVP voting. When you add his exploits in the post season of 2003, that’s when he became the star known as Big Papi. Ortiz believes that being a consistent performer is what makes you a leader on a baseball team. Despite the occasional slump which is followed by second guessing by the media, Papi just kept working until he saw results at some point.
When he was asked about how his career might be compared to the legendary Ted Williams, Big Papi observed that each era has its own particular challenges and options. Baseball today has pitchers who throw harder, relief specialists, and defensive shifts based on computer data. David Ortiz suggested that perhaps Ted Williams could thrive in today’s game with the advantages of training and equipment that are now available to athletes. The Splendid Splinter was one of the best in his era. If you think about it, Ted Williams dealt with the challenges of his times–scuffed, dirty baseballs; train travel; and two breaks in his career due to military service in World War II and Korea. Baseball fans like to think that you can compare players from different periods; but, in so many ways, the game has changed and will continue to evolve.
Fans should just reflect on Big Papi’s great career and enjoy David Ortiz this last season. You never know when or if someone like him will come again.