David Oritz delivered a rousing speech in front of an exultant crowd to highlight Sunday's Baseball Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown, New York.
The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins slugger was one of seven players formally inducted into the Hall alongside Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Bud Fowler and Negro League pioneer Buck O'Neil. Fowler, Hodges, Minoso and O'Neil were posthumously inducted.
Ortiz, who made the Hall on his first ballot after retiring from the Red Sox in 2016, was introduced to a raucous ovation from fans. As he took the stage, a chant of "Papi! Papi! Papi!" broke out from the crowd.
“Please welcome 𝙃𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙁𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙧 ‘Big Papi’ David Ortiz.” pic.twitter.com/8uhAzjcJ17
— Red Sox (@RedSox) July 24, 2022
Ortiz is the first designated hitter inducted to the Hall on his first ballot and the fourth Dominican-born player to join the Hall alongside Pedro Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero.
Ortiz was inducted Sunday three years after surviving a gunshot wound to his back in the Dominican Republic. He reveled in the moment as he spoke to his fans in a speech that alternated between English and Spanish.
"Wow! Cooperstown," Ortiz exclaimed. ... “I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here today and for giving me the joy of being able to travel this path, this path that has allowed me to be here today and hopefully inspire everyone to believe in yourself."
Ortiz retired from MLB as the greatest hitter of a Red Sox era that saw the franchise secure its first World Series championships since 1918. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Twins, who released him after the 2002 season. He signed with the Red Sox as a 27-year-old free agent in 2003 and helped lead them to a World Series title in 2004.
That run included a Red Sox rally from an 0-3 ALCS hole against the New York Yankees, the first and only time in MLB history a team has rallied from such a deficit to win a playoff series. Ortiz was named series MVP.
The 2004 championship was the first of three Ortiz won with the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series in 2007 and 2013. Ortiz was named World Series MVP in 2013. He made 10 All-Star teams as a member of the Red Sox while claiming seven Silver Slugger Awards.
He led the American League in home runs with 54 in 2007. He retired with 541 home runs, 1,768 RBI and a career slash line of .286/.380/.552 over 20 seasons. His on-field exploits alongside his gregarious personality made him one of baseball's most revered figures.
— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2022
"I always try to live my life in a way that supports others, that make a positive influence in the world. " Ortiz said on Sunday. "If my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. You can change their future. Just like so many people who believed in me."