If you’re somehow not familiar with Big Papi, here’s what you need to know to understand why everyone is so shaken up by the news.
Sure, everyone thinks Ortiz is a great guy, but don’t let that distract you from the fact he was also a really, really great baseball player.
Ortiz, 43, played for 20 seasons in the MLB, which is an eternity in baseball time. He’s best known for the 14 years he spent with the Boston Red Sox, where he helped end the so-called Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series in 2004.
He nabbed two other World Series rings in 2007 and 2013, and was named the 2013 World Series MVP. He retired in 2016, and will be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame at the end of 2021 (spoiler alert: He’s gonna make it) .
He was there for Boston in one of its darkest hours
Given his stats, it’s no surprise Ortiz is a legend among legends in Boston and the region. But his connection to the city runs deeper than dingers and rings.
In 2013, months before the Red Sox made their push for World Series glory, the city was shaken by the Boston Marathon bombings. Before playing at Fenway Park for the first time after the tragedy, Ortiz took the field and delivered an ad hoc speech that’s already gone down in Boston history.
“This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston,'” he told the crowd, before thanking city officials for their work in the difficult aftermath of the attack.
“This is our f***ing city. And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
He has one of the most enduring nicknames in sports
In other words, Ortiz just calls everyone “Papi,” in keeping with a Dominican custom, he said.
People just started calling him Papi back, Ortiz said, and it stuck.
He’s a proud native of the Dominican Republic
Ortiz, a married father of three, became an American citizen in 2008.
He has a legendary sense of humor
Ortiz’s sense of humor and gap-toothed smile are almost as iconic as his nickname.
In his golden years (that’s in baseball terms, of course), Ortiz has also taken his talents to broadcasting as a studio analyst on Fox Sports.