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David Ortiz was an integral part of the Boston Red Sox’s 2004 World Series championship run, when the Sox broke the “Curse of the Bambino,” and a former teammate believes the retired slugger is the greatest player in franchise history.
Kevin Millar, who partnered with Twisted Tea to unveil its new Sweet Cherry Lime flavor, explained to Fox News Digital in a recent interview just how important Ortiz was to the team. Millar said general manager Theo Epstein, who also deserved credit for how the team was constructed, picked up Ortiz almost on a whim after he was initially non-tendered by the Minnesota Twins after the 2002 season.
Millar also revealed Ortiz wanted to be traded during the 2003 season if he wasn’t going to get more playing time. It’s something Epstein also mentioned in 2018 in an interview on MLB.com’s “Executive Access.”
David Ortiz and Kevin Millar work out at the Red Sox minor league spring complex in Ft. Myers, Fla. (Matthew West/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
“David Ortiz, non-tendered from the Twins, he stepped up and was kinda in an out of the lineup in ’03 and, finally in May, he hit a home run in Anaheim,” Millar recalled. “And I remember he said he wanted to be traded or play every day because, at that time, Jeremy Giambi was DHing, Shea Hillenbrand, myself were kinda doing a ring around the rosy, and finally he established himself in the story as the designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox in the middle of May.
“That year, he ended up hitting 31 home runs with 109 RBI and turned into just a remarkable, remarkable threat and then just took off. And then obviously the ’04 year and then made himself just an unbelievable career and the best DH I think this game has ever seen because the — not just his numbers — but the big home runs, the big RBI late in the game, and he hit great pitching. That’s one thing Derek Jeter did on that big stage is that when you’re in the postseason, those pitchers are the best in the league. That’s why they’re there, and they hit good pitching.
“David Ortiz, to me, is the best Red Sox player of all time.”
David Ortiz, left, of the Boston Red Sox talks to former Red Sox player Kevin Millar before taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series at Busch Stadium Oct. 26, 2013, in St Louis. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Ortiz finished his career with 541 home runs. In his final season with Boston in 2016, he was an All-Star and led the league with 48 doubles, a .620 slugging percentage and a 1.021 OPS. He also had 38 home runs that year – the most he had since 2006, when he hit 54.
The three-time World Series champion was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January after seemingly coming out of nowhere to become the superstar he was.
“That’s why Theo Epstein deserves so much credit because (Ortiz) was available to everybody. But a non-tendered deal, Theo gave him a chance and he brought myself in, Todd Walker in, Bill Mueller in and Jeremy Giambi in and David Ortiz in. And the next thing you know, we all were kind of just part of a team, and David Ortiz just went to another level,” Millar said.
“And Manny Ramirez, he was the greatest right-handed hitter I’ve ever seen. You can put Miguel Cabrera up there, you can put Albert Pujols up there in their prime – those three guys – but we had a chance to really learn from Manny, and David Ortiz followed Manny around like a little puppy dog. I know David always gives him a lot of credit for his success. That’s part of being a great team and a teammate. We weren’t the best players, but I always say we were the best team.”
Baseball Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz speaks to reporters during a news conference after his orientation tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum May 2, 2022, in Cooperstown, N.Y. The former Boston Red Sox player will be inducted July 24. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Last week, the 10-time All-Star toured the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He received 77.9% of the vote on the baseball writers’ ballots.