David Ortiz played the final game of his career Monday night, going 1-for-1 with two walks in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 3 of the ALDS.
Ortiz wept after the game; surely, countless members of Rex Sox Nation did the same.
“He’s the greatest DH we’ve ever seen,” Eye on Baseball MLB analyst C.J. Nitkowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Edgar Martinez is right there in that conversation, but David Ortiz’s numbers over the long haul were better. (He was) a great match in his city, an iconic player, a guy who had a lot of fun playing the game, which I think is important. He showed a lot of personality.”
He was also perhaps the most clutch player of his generation. A 10-time All-Star, Ortiz helped the Red Sox to three World Series championships. He was the 2004 ALCS MVP, the 2013 World Series MVP, and, in his final season, led the AL in RBIs for the the third time. In fact, Ortiz had an age-40 season for, well, the ages, hitting .315 with a .401 OBP, 38 homers, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles.
“The year he had in his last year, it’s almost hard to believe that he’s walking away,” Nitkowski said. “You don’t see this too often. Most guys are kind of forced to leave because they can’t perform anymore. Even the greatest players we’ve ever seen are kind of forced to leave. But David Ortiz legitimately is going out on his own terms, which is pretty impressive to do at his age. (He was) a great personality, a really likable guy, which is nice to see in our sport. We don’t have the great superstars. It’s a little bit of an issue, especially nationally. Everybody knows who David Ortiz is. It was great to see what he did with his career. After leaving Minnesota, (he was) a waiver claim for the Boston Red Sox and that run that he went on that entire time that he was there – he’s definitely one of the greats we’ve had in this game.”
Indeed, Ortiz spent the first six years of his career in Minnesota. He was released after the 2002 season and signed a free-agent contract with the Red Sox in January 2003.
The rest is history.
“He was still relatively young and there was a lot of time left obviously in his career to be able to go on the run that he went on,” Nitkowski said. “Sometimes a coach says something that makes a little bit more sense. Sometimes a teammate (gives) a little bit of insight. Being a DH is not an easy thing to do. There’s a lot of position players that hate the days that they DH. They feel so disconnected from the game and they just sit around, sit around and take an at-bat every two or three innings. It’s not easy for a lot of players to do. He found a way to make that work. I’m sure there were some mentors along the way to walk him through it, and ultimately he found a home (and was) just very comfortable in that DH role, which is not easy for most.”