BY KEVIN JONES – ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
For over a decade, baseball fans could not think of the Boston Red Sox without thinking of their power-hitting, lefty designated hitter. Whether fans knew him as David Ortiz or by his nickname, Big Papi, Ortiz had become the face of the franchise. It came as a surprise when Ortiz came out and publicly stated that 2016 would be his last year playing professional baseball. It will be hard for some Red Sox fans to imagine anyone other than Ortiz as the team’s designated hitter as he enters his 14th season with the team. Some people don’t know that Ortiz did not start his career with the Red Sox. Ortiz’s major league career began in 1997 when he played 15 games with the Minnesota Twins. He remained with the Twins until he became a free agent in the 2002 offseason and was picked up by the Red Sox. Although Ortiz did not win any awards in his eight years with the Twins, he was selected to the all-star team nine teams and won the Silver Slugger award six times during his 13-year stint with the Red Sox. Ortiz never won a most valuable player award during his career, but he finished in the top five in the MVP voting five years in a row from 2003 to 2007. In 2006, Ortiz led the league in home runs for the only time in his career when he hit 54 out of the park. He also hit 30 or more home runs in eight of his 13 seasons with the Red Sox. Ortiz led the league in RBI twice, in 2005 when he drove in 148 runs and in 2006 when he drove in 137 runs. Ortiz’s regular season numbers do not do him justice, though. In the 13 seasons that Ortiz played with the Red Sox they appeared in the playoffs seven times and won three championships. Overall, in 82 postseason games, Ortiz hit 17 home runs and had 60 RBIs with a batting average of .295. Ortiz won the American League Championship Series MVP in 2004 and the World Series MVP in 2013. In the 2004 ALCS, Ortiz hit three home runs and drove in 11 runs. In the 2013 World Series, Ortiz hit two home runs, drove in six runs and hit for an unfathomable .688 average. Many consider the 2004 playoffs the most memorable part of Ortiz’s career. The Red Sox were up two games to none against the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series and were set to finish the series when the Angels tied the game at six with a five-run seventh inning. The game ended in the tenth when Ortiz hit a walk off two run home run. Things got even better for Ortiz in the ALCS. The Red Sox were down three games to none against their most-hated rival: the New York Yankees. They were on the brink of elimination. In the fourth game of the series, Ortiz drove in four runs, including a walk off two run home run in the tenth inning leading to a 6-4 victory. In game five Ortiz drove in three runs including a solo home run and a walk off hit. Over his 19-year career Ortiz hit 503 home runs in total and 445 during his time in Boston. During his career Ortiz not only dominated in the regular season, but proved to be one of the most clutch hitters in recent baseball history. In 2009 Ortiz took the biggest hit to his Hall of Fame bid when it was released that he failed a supposedly private drug test from 2003. Some people believe that Ortiz should be barred from the Hall of Fame because of his positive test. Others believe that Ortiz took supplements not knowing that they were banned in baseball.