David Ortiz, who rose to prominence as the designated hitter of the Boston Red Sox, was officially welcomed into the Hall of Fame on Sunday as part of this year’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. In addition to Ortiz, the Hall of Fame opened its doors to six other individuals: Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, as well as the late Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Minnie Miñoso and Buck O’Neil.
Ortiz used his speech to thank the Red Sox organization for helping him develop into the player he became. “I can’t thank you enough for building me up and supporting me throughout the years,” he said. “That organization made me the man I am today.”
Here’s Ortiz’s speech:
Ortiz joined the Red Sox as a free agent after the 2002 season. He’d spent parts of the previous six seasons with the Minnesota Twins, with whom he’d hit for a 108 OPS+ with 58 home runs across 455 games. (The Twins, for their part, had originally acquired him in a trade with the Seattle Mariners that also involved Dave Hollins.) Despite his first season with the Red Sox marking his age-27 campaign, he was able to embark on a 14-year run that landed him in Cooperstown.
With the Red Sox, Ortiz batted .290/.386/.570 (148 OPS+) with 483 home runs in 1,953 games. He made 10 All-Star Game appearances, won seven Silver Slugger Awards, and received Most Valuable Player Award consideration on eight occasions. Ortiz, who showed a penchant for recording big-time hits in big-time moments, also won three World Series titles, including one to break the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004.
It’s no wonder, then, that Ortiz was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with nearly 78 percent of the vote, nor that his plaque featured him wearing a Red Sox hat.