Red Sox slugger David Ortiz announced today, his 40th birthday, that the upcoming season will be his last as a Major League Baseball player. A nine-time All-Star and three-time World Champion with Boston, "Big Papi" will play his 20th and final season in 2016, his 14th as a member of the Red Sox.
"It is difficult to adequately convey what David Ortiz has meant to the Boston Red Sox," said Principal Owner John Henry. "For his teammates, he has been the one constant force underpinning what it means to play for this organization and making it fun. For the fans, he has been the one consistent force behind three world championships, lifting all of us on his broad shoulders exactly when we needed it. For the community, he has been the hero providing leadership off the field in ways that consistently make a difference - often completely unseen. And for those of us who have had the honor of knowing him all these years, he has been exactly what you hope to see in a man who has been the face of this organization.
"As he concludes his illustrious career in this, his final season, we look forward to joining everyone in the game of baseball in showing him just how much Big Papi has meant to all of us."
"David's first home run in a Red Sox uniform set the tone for the rest of his career," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "It was a go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the top of the 14th inning against the Angels. In that summer of 2003, David became the best slugger in all of baseball and carried the team on his back for the last three months of the season - a trend we would come to see time and again throughout his career. He has been in a Red Sox uniform nearly as long as we have been here, and he has been integral in all of the successes that we have all experienced.
"Yet for every home run, clutch hit, or World Series trophy, there was David Ortiz, just as often, out of sight in the tunnel behind the Red Sox dugout, meeting a child before the game. His hug, his smile, and his relentless encouragement have comforted and inspired so many children. They understand the broader dimension that merits our calling him a hero. Without doubt, he has been a hero to countless children visited in hospitals and those who have been supported by his charitable efforts both in New England and his home in the Dominican. I don't know that we will be able to thank him in a way that is commensurate with his contributions, but we will relish the opportunity to try."
"David Ortiz transcends numbers, home runs, and wins," said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. "He is one of the game's greatest players - and greatest champions - and he has been there for the city of Boston through thick and thin every step of the way. He has been a pillar of our team and a pillar of our city.
"We look forward to a final season of raising our heads to the sky looking for his long-ball, and watching him point to the heavens when he arrives home one final time."
A member of the Red Sox since signing as a free agent on January 22, 2003, Ortiz is the active player with the longest continuous tenure for his current major league team. He will become just the seventh player to appear in at least 14 consecutive seasons for the Red Sox, along with Carl Yastrzemski (23), Dwight Evans (19), Tim Wakefield (17), Jim Rice (16), Jason Varitek (15), and Ted Williams (15).
Ortiz hit 37 home runs last season, the most by any Red Sox player in nine years, and reached the 500-homer plateau in September. It was his ninth career 30-homer campaign and his sixth career 35-homer season, both of which set new Red Sox records. Ortiz (9 for the Red Sox), Babe Ruth (12 for the New York Yankees), and Lou Gehrig (10 for the Yankees) are the only players to produce at least nine 30-homer/100-RBI seasons for a single American League team.
The left-handed batter had a .273 average (144-for-528) in 2015 and led the AL with 16 intentional walks. He also placed among AL leaders in extra-base hits (4th, 74), RBI (5th, 108), slugging percentage (6th, .553), walks (T-6th, 77), doubles (T-8th, 37), homers (9th), and total bases (10th, 292). From June 11 through the end of the season, he led all major leaguers in slugging (.660) and RBI (87) and paced the AL with 60 extra-base hits.
Ortiz became the 27th member of the 500-home run club on September 12, when he hit both his 499th and 500th roundtrippers at Tropicana Field. The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is one of just four players with at least 500 career homers and three World Series championships, along with Hall of Famers Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson.
Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera are the only hitters with at least a .500 slugging percentage in each of the last six seasons (2010-15), and his .556 slugging percentage since 2011 ranks third in the majors behind only Cabrera (.579) and Mike Trout (.559).
Boston's only three-time World Champion in the post-World War I era, Ortiz led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013. He owns the best-ever World Series batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.576), and slugging percentage (.795) among players with at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic, and was named MVP of the 2013 World Series.
Ortiz has hit .297 in seven different postseasons with Boston, tied with Jason Varitek for the most ever by a Red Sox position player. The Red Sox' career leader in postseason games (73), runs (51), hits (79), doubles (18), homers (17), extra-base hits (37), RBI (56), total bases (152), and walks (57), Ortiz also earned 2004 ALCS MVP honors after winning Games 4 and 5 with walk-off hits in Boston's historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series versus New York.
With the Red Sox, Ortiz has hit 445 home runs, a total that trails only Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski; he is within eight home runs of overtaking Yastrzemski for second place on that list. His 1,403 RBI trail that same group plus Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who he trails by 48.
Ortiz also ranks in the Red Sox Top 10 in extra-base hits (3rd, 936), total bases (5th, 3,751), doubles (3rd, 476), walks (4th, 1,053), runs scored (5th, 1,125), hits (7th, 1,910), and games played (6th, 1,802). He ranks fourth in team history (min. 3,000 PA) with a .566 slugging percentage and a .951 OPS behind only Williams (.634, 1.116), Jimmie Foxx (.605, 1.034), and Manny Ramirez (.588, .999).
Ortiz has a lifetime .284 batting average (2,303-for-8,103) with 584 doubles, most among active players, as well as 18 triples, 503 home runs, 1,641 RBI, 1,340 runs and 1,239 walks in 2,257 games with the Minnesota Twins (1997-2002) and Red Sox (2003-15). His 503 home runs rank 27th on baseball's all-time list, third among active players, and 12th in American League history.
The only other active players that were in the majors in 1997 - his first year in the big leagues - are Bartolo Colon and Alex Rodriguez. Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an international free agent nearly 23 years ago in November 1992.
Among designated hitters, Ortiz is the all-time major league leader in games (1,889), hits (2,023), doubles (509), home runs (447), extra-base hits (973), total bases (3,907), and RBI (1,443). He has earned the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award a record seven times (2003-07, 2011, 2013). His six Silver Slugger Awards as DH (2004-07, 2011, 2013) are the most ever at the position.
Ortiz won the 2005 AL Hank Aaron Award, given to the top offensive performer in each league, after leading the majors with 148 RBI. In 2006, he received the Josh Gibson Award, presented by the National Negro Leagues Museum to each league's home run champion, after breaking Foxx's Red Sox single-season home runs record with 54.
A champion of charitable initiatives, Ortiz won the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball's highest honor for those who best represent the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field. That same year, he won the Boston BBWAA's Tim Wakefield Award for his charitable spirit. In 2008, he was honored with UNICEF's Children's Champion Award.
He created the David Ortiz Children's Fund to provide critical pediatric services in New England and in his native Dominican Republic. Next month in the Dominican, he will host his eighth annual golf classic to benefit his foundation. In Boston, he has provided his time and other resources to Mass General Hospital for Children, donating tickets to patients from the hospital over the last four years as part of his "Papi's Pals" program.