David Ortiz carved out a Hall of Fame career in which he fearlessly faced pitchers with the game in between.
As for the crowd in Cooperstown to give his commencement speech, that’s another story.
“I wish it would be over soon,” the iconic Red Sox slugger said this month as he watched his induction ceremony on July 24. “I’m nervous about everything. It’s too much. It’s too many things at once.”
The 10-time All-Star, who won three World Series championships with Boston, became the 58th player to be selected at his first opportunity. He was the only player chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil, as part of the veterans’ committee selections, join him in the Class of 2022.
Ortiz hit .286 with 541 home runs and 1,768 RBIs in a 20-year career with the Red Sox and Twins. He batted .289 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs in nine postseasons — and scooped the 2013 World Series MVP by posting a .688 average.
Among those hits were several that sealed victories that earned him a reputation as one of the most opportune hitters in history. He did it in two straight games that went into extra innings to leave the opponent lying down — in Game 4 and then Game 5 of the 2004 AL Championship Series against the Yankees. The Red Sox made history by becoming the first team in the Major Leagues to turn around an 0-3 deficit in a seven-game series. They ended up sweeping St. Louis in the World Series to win their first title since 1918.
For Ortiz, all of that is part of the ballplayer’s trade.
“I’m not saying it’s an easy thing, but you get used to it,” he said. ”.
More stress: “Big Papi” will have to work as a commentator for the Fox network at the All-Star Game on July 19 in Los Angeles.
“I’ve never had so many things on my schedule,” he said. “I’m someone who knows how to deal with a lot of things. But it’s just too much.”
Ortiz said he’s slow going on writing his commencement speech, but he’ll focus on thanking the people who helped him in his career.
“I have nothing crazy for my speech. It’s not going to take me three hours,” he said. “I have a significant group of people in my life and career.”
Ortiz spoke with The Associated Press to discuss his new line of sunglasses. The Zenni include models with the names “Santo Domingo” and “PapiVision” and even “Gold Glove” for a player who never won that award and spent more time as a designated hitter than any other Hall of Famer.