Best For Last: David Ortiz’s Legendary Retirement Tour Season

Willam Shea and Ben Thompson

The “retirement tour” has become a staple in sports. It is a season or year, long celebration of a player who has revolutionized a sport, or a position within their respective sport. It started with Mariano Rivera in 2013 and has led to others such as Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant. These tours include gifts from other teams, standing ovations at every game and a boatload of merchandise. It may sound over the top and it is.

Fans and athletes alike have been very critical of retirement tours, and their biggest gripe is production during the retirement tour. Kobe Bryant shot a career worst and league low 36% from the field and was paid a league high $25,000,000 on a Lakers team that had their worst record in franchise history. Derek Jeter hit .256 in an abysmal final season that finished with the Yankees not going to the postseason. So, in 2016, when David “Big Papi” Ortiz, announced he would be retiring after the season, fans were skeptical. At age 40 would he perform? How much attention would be put on him instead of the team? If he doesn’t play well will he sit?

Flash forward 162 games later. The Red Sox reached the playoffs with a 94-68 record and an American League East title. They had three players with 30 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI’s for the first time in team history, one of them being a 40-year-old veteran named David Ortiz. Yeah, the same David Ortiz that everyone was skeptical about before the season started. Ortiz finished the year with a team high 38 home runs, a league high 127 RBIs, and a league high .620 slugging percentage. Those unheard-of statistics cement his legacy as one of the best DH’s (designated hitter) of all time and, one of the best power hitters of all time. His 38 home runs and 127 RBIs are the most ever by a 40-year-old and he will finish his career at #17 on the list of all-time home runs with 541.

Ortiz can have all the gifts and the accolades that he wants, but his biggest accomplishment will always be his relationship with the city of Boston. Up there with the likes of Larry Bird and Tom Brady, Ortiz is a Beantown legend. Paving the way for three World Series titles and delivering clutch hit after clutch hit, Ortiz is a hero in Titletown folk lore. On his final game the Red Sox named the famous bridge over the Mass Pike Way, the David Ortiz Bridge for his accomplishments. Next year Ortiz will have his number retired up in the stands of hallowed Fenway Park forever. No Sox player will be able to wear number 34 anymore and no one ever should.