COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — “Daddy! Daddy!”
With chants echoing through the Plaque Gallery as he entered, David Ortiz felt right at home inside the Hall of Fame.
The dreams of his youth growing up in the Dominican Republic came full circle on Monday at the end of the tour to prepare for his induction this summer.
And Big Papi was clearly excited.
“The party is just getting started,” Ortiz said.
Listening to a group of high school baseball players yelling his nickname also helped.
A big smile spread across his face as he sat in awe of his surroundings, woodcarvings of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams to his right.
“It’s been a long road, you know what I’m saying. Being in this room, it’s my first time. It gives me goosebumps because as a kid, it’s like these guys in this room, you look at them and you’re like wow It is something impossible (to imagine) considering where I come from,” he said.
“The best players in the history of the sport. He is a great compliment. I nevertheless can not believe that. I still can’t believe it,” he commented. “I know that on the field I do whatever it takes to win championships and represent Boston. It has worked”.
The veteran slugger for the Boston Red Sox was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first try in January by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Ortiz, who was a 10-time Major League All-Star over 20 seasons, most with Boston, was elected on 77.9% of the ballot, just above the 75% threshold needed for his induction. . He is the 58th player chosen in his first year on the ballot.
Ortiz, 46, is the fourth Hall of Famer born in the Dominican Republic. He joins Juan Marichal, Pedro Martínez and Vladimir Guerrero. Ortiz will be enshrined July 24 along with committee-selected veterans Buck O’Neil, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Bud Fowler.
Ortiz said he started thinking about the Hall of Fame when he hit 400 home runs in July 2012.
“Once I hit my 400, someone had a conversation with me about it and I was like, ‘Hmm. Let me try to take better care of myself, see if I can get there,’” she commented. “That’s when I started paying attention.”
Ortiz, who had a .286 batting average and hit 541 home runs with 1,768 RBI while playing for the Boston and Minnesota Twins, made 88% of his plate appearances as a designated hitter. He is the most of any Hall of Fame baseball player, surpassing the Seattle Mariners’ Edgar Martinez, who was a designated hitter in 71.7% of his plate appearances.
Ortiz was one of the best hitters in the game, helping the Red Sox win three World Series in his 14 seasons with them. In addition, his huge smile endeared him to fans around the world, making him one of the most popular players in the sport.
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David Ortiz visits the Hall of Fame prior to induction