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Papi 10 List, No. 9: Papi sets tone

Walk-off hits, Game 7 HR sparked historic comeback in 2004 ALCS
MLB.com

In honor of David Ortiz having his No. 34 retired by the Red Sox, MLB.com and John Hancock are celebrating Big Papi's greatest career moments with the "Papi 10 List," counting down one legendary moment each day leading up to the June 23 pregame ceremony at Fenway Park.

David Ortiz saw his legend grow each postseason with the Red Sox, and he became an October hero during the 2004 American League Championship Series against the rival Yankees.

In honor of David Ortiz having his No. 34 retired by the Red Sox, MLB.com and John Hancock are celebrating Big Papi's greatest career moments with the "Papi 10 List," counting down one legendary moment each day leading up to the June 23 pregame ceremony at Fenway Park.

David Ortiz saw his legend grow each postseason with the Red Sox, and he became an October hero during the 2004 American League Championship Series against the rival Yankees.

Ortiz played an integral role in helping the Red Sox rally to force Game 7 after falling behind in the series, 3-0. Big Papi delivered clutch walk-off hits in extra innings in Games 4 and 5, swinging momentum back to the Sox. Boston won Game 6 in New York, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

• Papi 10 List: Ortiz's greatest moments

Naturally, Ortiz set the tone for the Red Sox with a two-run homer in the first inning, sending the first pitch he saw from right-handed starter Kevin Brown into the seats in right field to silence the stunned crowd and give Boston an early advantage.

Ortiz's homer did wonders for the Red Sox. Johnny Damon had singled to open the game and stolen second base, but he was thrown out at home as he tried to score on a single by Manny Ramirez. Big Papi then stepped to the plate and ripped a laser off Brown for his third homer of the series.

The Red Sox never looked back after Ortiz went yard, leading the rest of the game and winning, 10-3, to complete an unlikely and unprecedented comeback.

"The greatest comeback in baseball history," Red Sox owner John Henry said at the time.

The rest, as they say, was history, with the Sox sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years and reverse "The Curse of the Bambino."

Ortiz homered again in Game 1 of the World Series, but his first-inning long ball to set the tone in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS was one of the most important home runs in the storied history of the Red Sox.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com.