If there was one phrase that comes to mind when Boston.com readers think of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, it’s “clutch hitter.” And for that reason alone, readers are confident that Big Papi deserves a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I have been a Red Sox fan for over 50 years. David Ortiz has provided fans with more thrills by his clutch hitting than any other player in its history,” said David H. from Canton. “He deserves a unanimous election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Ortiz is up for the honor for the first time since he retired in 2016 and before the Hall of Fame announces which players will make it at Cooperstown, we asked readers if they thought Ortiz deserved the title of Hall of Famer and the answer was a resounding yes. For readers, Big Papi is nothing short of a Boston legend.
“If Tom Brady is a robot built to win football games, David Ortiz is a god, meant to inspire the masses. He did the impossible, until the very end,” said Patrick M. from Bridgewater.
The final roster for the incoming members of Hall of Famers will be announced on Jan. 25 and the 10-time All-Star player is on track to be elected.
Readers said they love Ortiz not just for this accomplishment on the diamond — breaking the Red Sox decades-long curse at the 2004 World Series and winning another title in 2007, and the 2013 grand slam to name just a few — but also because of what he meant as a cultural figure in the city.
“His on-field achievements speak for themselves. He is a G.O.A.T,” said Steven K. from Cohasset. “But what sets him apart is what he did off-field for Boston. Top of the list — the speech after the Boston Marathon bombing. He is Boston Strong!”
But not everyone is on board with Ortiz becoming a Hall of Famer. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, notably left the former designated hitter off his ballot for the Hall of Fame because Ortiz was among a handful of players who tested positive in an MLB drug-testing survey in 2003.
While a few readers felt the incident was a sticking point as to why he shouldn’t be inducted, for the majority of readers, his accomplishments on the field overshadow any doubts about his drug use.
“Ortiz was the best player at his position, one of the most accomplished hitters in the post-season, and played in an era where everyone was dealing with the moral dilemma of whether to use steroids or not,” said Matt G. from Rutland. “MLB let it continue because they were cashing in. I think Clemens and Bonds deserve in too because they were a part of this era. People need to let go, we are all flawed.”
Regardless of their opinion of his status as a deserving Hall of Famer, few readers could deny the success he brought to the Red Sox. Below you’ll find a sampling of responses from readers on why they think Ortiz should be named as a Hall of Famer or why they think the honor should go to other players.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Do you think David Ortiz deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame?
Yes, “Hall of Fame-worthy without question.”
“His record — especially in hitting — speaks for itself. How many walk-off home runs and hits we witnessed! He loved Boston and our fans!” — Pam. C, Revere
“‘Not on the first ballot’ is a bunch of pretentious nonsense. If someone belongs, they belong. Ortiz was a central figure in all of baseball, not just Boston, for well over a decade. He remains so in retirement. His accomplishments speak for themselves.” — Brian W., Westminster
“Most iconic and clutch hitter in Red Sox history since Yaz and a hitter feared in every ballpark. Also, his outsized personality added to dugout morale and to the city of Boston.” — PJ, Maine
“Gutsy player who always delivered for the Sox, especially after the Boston Marathon bombing. Would we have reversed the curse without him? Or won those other Series?” — Jean G.
“Great regular-season player/otherworldly postseason player. Three World Series titles. Played the game with grit and joy. Enough said.” — Bill, Merrimack, N.H.
“Ortiz’s statistical greatness is Hall of Fame-worthy without question. That he performed at the highest level in the biggest games and series is an additional, and significant, factor in his favor. Why was the Mr. October moniker coined forty-five years ago? Because the ability to perform (or outperform, as the case might be) in the most important games is emblematic of greatness, and a trait that separates the very good from those in the Hall. But, perhaps most important to his candidacy, Ortiz’s intangibles push him well beyond any mental sticking point: This man loved baseball, loved playing, loved the city, loved the fans, and was both joyful and joy-inducing in his play. Few players can carry that weight. Fewer still have done so as effectively and brilliantly as Ortiz. It is one thing to possess the physical and mental tools to churn out a stream of air-bruising swings, home runs, and RBI. It is quite another for a single player to lift the spirits of a team, a stadium, and a city. Ortiz, as much if not more than any other player of the last twenty years, was capable of reminding you, after all of the millions of dollars, that it was still just a game. Put him in.” — Mike L., Beverly
“Regular season numbers, postseason numbers, personality, leadership, ending the curse ‘04, saving the city ‘13. Oh, and another title ‘07. Not only is he a Hall of Famer, he’s a top-tier Hall of Famer. It’s not just the numbers, it’s the story.” — Michael P., Manchester, N.H.
“I won’t bother recounting the statistics and the postseason heroics, or the reasons to be skeptical of his positive test in 2003. The fact is, he was the game’s premier left-handed slugger for a decade and a half. Those of us who’ve followed baseball for decades know a legend when we see it. It’s time that the Hall stops excluding the best of the best. That means Manny and Clemens too! Looking at the record books, it’s loaded with legends who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Also, Ortiz meant as much to Boston as any player has to any city, ever.” — Nathan B., North Adams
“David (Big Papi) was not only the ‘face’ of the Red Sox but also the leader in the clubhouse, a mentor to all of the young players, and the spark that led to so many wins during his amazing seasons with the team. He has been sorely missed by management, players, and so many fans since his retirement. David has more than earned his place in Cooperstown.” — Sally C.
Yes, but not yet.
“The greatest baseball players in history, Bond and Clemens, are being denied entrance due to steroid allegations. Ortiz also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Although I consider Ortiz the ultimate clutch power hitter of all time and should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, until Bonds and Clemens are inducted, I believe Ortiz should be on hold. Hopefully, not for long.” — Jason M.
“After all, he DID fail that test. A ding against him. He will ultimately get elected to the Hall of Fame.” — Pete W., Woburn
“I think he used. Boston fans love to crucify Alex Rodriguez for using so you can’t have it both ways.” — Tim, Maine
“Designated hitter isn’t as valuable. Other players deserve to get in and have fewer years on the ballot, so with a limit of 10, he shouldn’t be in before others who deserve it and have less time.” — Anonymous
No, “there is no way Ortiz should even be considered.”
“Absolutely not. After [being named] in the Mitchell Report, he interrupted Terry Francona’s press conference and promised to ‘get to the bottom of what he took that made him test positive.’ Since then, nothing but silence. Big Papi has only gotten a free pass in this town because of his personality. Big Papi aka the Big CON!” — Dan, Everett
“Ortiz was a marginal player with Minnesota before coming to Boston. In Boston, he suddenly becomes an offensive force. He tested positive for PEDs in 2003 and much like Barry Bonds was subject to steroid rumors the remainder of his career. His ‘roid-rage’ incidents re-enforced these rumors and are well documented — violent outbursts at umpires and opposing players, calling the press box between innings to berate official scorekeepers, smashing a dugout telephone with a bat in Baltimore. If Barry Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame then there is no way Ortiz should even be considered.” — NM, Worcester
“He’s a designated hitter, not a position player. Put him on the field for 162 and he doesn’t have those numbers. He doesn’t belong in Cooperstown. A clutch hitter and yes, he won a lot of games for the Sox with his clutch hitting, but that doesn’t get you into Cooperstown.” — Anonymous
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.