What’s he known for? Big Papi is a member of the elite 500+ home run club. He has the 2nd most home runs of any Red Sox player, behind only Ted Williams. And many of those homers came at clutch times; Papi played a key role in each of the Red Sox’s 3 World Series victories since 2004.
What’s with the nickname? Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins in December 2002. He signed with the Red Sox just a few weeks later and showed up to spring training without knowing many people. He couldn’t remember his new teammates’ names, so he started calling everyone “Papi.” They started calling him Papi back and the nickname stuck.
Why’s he retiring? At age 40, Papi says he has aches and pains, but you would never know it from watching him play. He’s having the best farewell season in MLB history. So far, he’s already hit 37 home runs, the most of any player in his final year.
Farewell tour. All season long, Big Papi has been given gifts and honored at ballparks across the country. But he shouldn’t expect such a warm welcome from the N.Y. Yankees; one Yankees fan is trying to get the entire stadium to collectively moon him. But when they go low, Papi goes high. He penned a moving letter to Yankees fans saying he’ll miss the rivalry because it made him a better player.
A blemish on the legacy. Back in 2003, before there were penalties in MLB for doping, Big Papi tested positive for steroids. He said it was an accident and might have come from taking various vitamin supplements. It’s unclear whether the PED allegations will keep him out of the Hall of Fame. It may help that all 10 of Ortiz’s All-Star game selections happened after testing became more stringent in 2004.