MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Big Papi's legacy defined by big-time wins

Beloved in Boston: Ortiz slugged Sox to 3 championships

Big Papi's legacy defined by big-time wins

BOSTON -- In the end, it's all about winning. And that's the inscription carved into Big Papi's legacy. David Ortiz is simply a larger-than-life figure, but he will be remembered most for not only lifting Boston's World Series curse in 2004, but for winning it all again in '07 and '13.

The three trophies were on the field Sunday during a 40-minute pregame ceremony in honor of Papi's last regular-season game at Fenway Park, along with a number of the guys who played with Ortiz on those teams.

"You're not going to have the visibility without the winning," Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Boston dropped a 2-1 decision to the Blue Jays. "When we don't win, we know what happens."

The Red Sox have had some great and adored Hall of Fame players in their history -- Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice -- to name a few. And next year, Ortiz will have his soon-to-be retired No. 34 hanging in the rafters above the seats in the right-field corner along with that trio and six others.

Red Sox to retire Papi's No. 34 next year

But none of them did what Papi has accomplished -- bring a World Series title to Boston. That alone, along with his substantial career numbers, should land Ortiz in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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"Times are different," Ortiz responded when told that Farrell and owner John Henry said he was more significant to the Red Sox than any other player. "Mr. Ted Williams went to war. He was a superhero who protected all of us and came back and raked. I'm always going to respect that."

Like Williams, Ortiz now has a bridge and a highway named after him, and Papi said he plans to drive back and forth over that bridge a few times "just to see what it feels like."

That's what Big Papi is all about.

"I think anytime you have bridges and roads named after you, you obviously have one heck of a legacy," Farrell said.

As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned, Ortiz played 2,029 games over 20 seasons as a designated hitter, and that may have an impact. Thus far, voters haven't smiled brightly on those who exclusively starred at DH. But as Ortiz said, times change.

"He's got to be the best DH to ever be," said Ruben Amaro Jr., the former Phillies general manager who spent this season as Farrell's first-base coach.

Pedro on Papi's big day

Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, will be eligible for the Class of 2022. There are no position players of Dominican heritage in the Hall, although outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is on the ballot for the first time at the end of the year. Pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez are the only Hall of Famers from the Dominican Republic.

"He'd be the first one, in my opinion, I would think so," said Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox president of baseball operations. "Oh, god, he's an icon. He's one of the greatest sluggers of all time."

Ditto, Farrell.

"To me, he's a Hall of Fame player," he said. "For the majority, if not most of his career, he's been a DH. But I think when you look at individual performances, individual contributions, he's a Hall of Fame player in my mind."

Ortiz's 50th home run of 2006

Papi's thoughts?

"All I can do is do what I do on the field," Ortiz said. "As far as the Hall of Fame goes, I'll probably start thinking about that five years from now. All I've been trying to do throughout my career is send the right message to everybody and try to do the right thing."

Big Papi receives long ovation

Not since Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox near the beginning of the 20th century has any one player been this successful for the Red Sox.

Ruth is the only other star player to win the World Series three times in Red Sox history, the last of them in 1918. He was traded to the Yankees in 1920 and it took 86 years for Ortiz to begin the streak that matched the Great Bambino.

Ortiz is the only player to take the field for all three championship teams of this era, and this year's squad has a chance to win a fourth when the Red Sox open their American League Division Series against the Indians in Cleveland on Thursday.

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"David would be in that category that I would call transformational," said Commissioner Rob Manfred, in town for the ceremony. "He changed the Red Sox. Obviously, he was a key part of the amazing three wins that they have here. It changed the course of this franchise."

For the Yankees in this generation, the "Core Four" of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada played on five World Series winners. But Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Joe DiMaggio all played for more.

In Boston, it's Williams, Yaz and Rice with no World Series rings. Take that all in. Yastrzemski and Rice were both at Fenway for Sunday's ceremony.

"With no disrespect to the greats who have worn this uniform," Farrell said, "it would be a great debate and there would be plenty of support for those other great names, but [Ortiz] may be the most important player in franchise history to date."

Papi thanks family, teammates

Be it ever so humble, Ortiz said this weekend that he's very proud of what he's accomplished. He finished with a slash line of .286/.380/.552, 541 homers, 1,768 RBIs and a .931 OPS.

"I'm super proud of what I have done," he said. "The story of my career has been very good. And when I think about it, I was a big-time underdog. I was somebody who came to the big leagues with this really ridiculous talent, but it wasn't that bright at the beginning.

"I figured one thing out: Just keep working and don't listen to people. The reality is you are the owner of your own future. It's all about how hungry you are. It's all about how good you want to be and successful you want to be. That has been my career."

A career defined by wins.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.