The Boston Red Sox captured their third World Series title in 10 years on Wednesday, capping off a season in which they went from worst to first in spectacular fashion. And they did it with a familiar face leading the way—designated hitter David Ortiz.
Ortiz is the only player on the current team who has basked in the glory of all three championship seasons. In 2004, he was in his second year with the Red Sox, having hit 41 home runs and 139 RBI during the regular season and then adding a .400 average with five homers and 16 RBI during the postseason that ended with the Red Sox winning their first World Series title in 86 years.
Three years later, Ortiz was at it again, this time hitting .332 during the regular season with 35 home runs and 117 RBI. He would shine once again in the playoffs, hitting .370 with three homers and 10 RBI as the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series.
Skip to the present, with a now 37-year-old slugger who once again shined in the spotlight. After another 30 HR/100 RBI season, Ortiz showed once again that October baseball is when he shines brightly.
Ortiz hit .385 with two home runs and three RBI in the ALDS as the Red Sox dispatched the Tampa Bay Rays in four games. He struggled in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, but it was his grand-slam home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 2 off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit that delivered a stunning come-from-behind 6-5 victory that kept the Red Sox from falling into a 0-2 hole in the series.
And once again, Ortiz showed that he was made for October baseball as the World Series began. Ortiz was nearly unstoppable, hitting .688 with two home runs and six RBI as the Red Sox dispatched the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.
When it came time to choose the Most Valuable Player
for the series, Ortiz’s play left no doubt that he was the choice.
But it wasn’t just about his play on the field that stood out in this unforgettable season for the Red Sox. His leadership was evident from Opening Day on.
Ortiz started the season on the disabled list while he continued healing from a strained Achilles tendon suffered last season. He made his debut on April 20, just five days after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings that left three people dead and well over a hundred injured.
On that Saturday, Ortiz addressed the Fenway Park crowd and let them know that they could count on the Red Sox to help in the healing process for the city. While he hurled out an expletive on national TV that would normally land most people in hot water, the FCC stood behind Ortiz’s comment, noting the emotions and passion of the day.
From that day forward, Ortiz and the Red Sox did in fact help their city, simply by winning. Ortiz’s leadership was most evident during Game 4 of the World Series. Prior to the start of the sixth inning with his team tied 1-1, Ortiz gathered his teammates in the dugout and gave a speech in which he implored his teammates to relax, continue to do what got them there in the first place and have fun.
To say his teammates were inspired is an understatement. They would go on to win the final three games of the series, and Ortiz added to his legend with his words and his actions.
There simply hasn’t been a more deserving World Series MVP in recent memory, and Ortiz showed a city—and the baseball world—that leadership is about much more than effort on the field.
For that, he is a deserving champion.