David Ortiz elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The David Ortiz Bridge, on Brookline Ave., over the Mass Pike, connects the Fenway Park neighborhood to Kenmore Square in Boston. From ...


The David Ortiz Bridge, on Brookline Ave., over the Mass Pike, connects the Fenway Park neighborhood to Kenmore Square in Boston. From there, it’s about four hours to Cooperstown, NY, soon to be home to another enduring marker of Ortiz’s oversized legacy.

Ortiz, whose hitting and swagger helped the Boston Red Sox become the most successful franchise of the new century, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. In his first year on the ballot, Ortiz was the only candidate to cross the 75% threshold needed for election, garnering 77.9% of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote.

The election was the 10th and final verdict from writers on the candidacies of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, longtime superstars whose records have been marred by links to performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds, whose 762 homers are the most in Major League Baseball history, got 66% of the vote, while Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards, got 65.2.

“He’s a guy who took the game to a whole different level – like Roger, the Rocket,” Ortiz said of Bonds and Clemens during a videoconference Tuesday night. “When I see these guys, to be honest with you, I don’t even compare myself to them because I’ve seen these guys perform so many times, and that was very special. Not having them with I, at the moment, find it hard to believe, to be honest with you, because these guys, they did it all.

Two other big names also dropped out of the ballot: Curt Schilling, who struck out more than 3,000 batters, and Sammy Sosa, who hit more than 600 homers. Schilling, who joked online about lynching journalists, garnered 58.6% of the vote in his 10th year of eligibility, and Sosa, who has strong ties to steroid use, only got than 18.5%. Like Bonds and Clemens, they could still be elected in years to come by small committees.

Ortiz will be honored at a ceremony in Cooperstown in late July with Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, who were chosen by commissions in December. Four others were also elected then and will be inducted posthumously: Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and Buck O’Neil.

Ortiz received 307 of 405 writers’ votes to become the second Red Sox Hall of Famer to break the curse. He joins former pitcher Pedro Martinez, also from the Dominican Republic, who was inducted in 2015 and celebrated with Ortiz on Tuesday. Their 2004 team won the franchise’s first title in more than eight decades — a drought that may have been a cosmic penalty for the infamous sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

As a powerful, affable, southpaw hitter, Ortiz cut a Ruthian figure, with a similar appetite for big moments. In three World Series — all wins — he hit .455 with a 1.372 on-base plus slugging percentage, both records among batters with at least 50 plate appearances.

Ortiz was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2013, when he went 11 for 16 with two home runs and eight walks against St. Louis. He was also MVP in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees, smashing two late game hits as the Red Sox faced elimination to help Boston overcome a three-game-to-zero deficit.

“I was always worried about going home without a trophy,” Ortiz said. “It was something I had nightmares about. And it happened a couple of times, but it was a ride or die type of situation, and I was really preparing for it.

In electing Ortiz on his first opportunity, most voters chose not to penalize him for his connection to the steroid era. The Times reported in 2009 that Ortiz had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, when baseball conducted investigative testing (without penalties) that was supposed to remain anonymous.

In 2016, just before Ortiz’s retirement, Commissioner Rob Manfred cited “legitimate scientific questions about whether or not they were really positive.” Ortiz maintained he never knowingly cheated and questioned the 2003 test result again on Tuesday.

“We had someone come out with this list that you don’t know why someone is positive,” Ortiz said Tuesday. “All of a sudden people were pointing at me, but then we started getting drug tests and I never failed a test. What does that tell you? “

Indeed, Ortiz achieved almost all of his success during the Testing era, which began with penalties in 2004. Traded by Seattle as a minor leaguer in 1996 and released by Minnesota six years later, Ortiz found the fame in Boston, making 10 All-Star teams. and winning seven Silver Slugger Awards as a designated hitter. He had 541 career homers, 1,768 RBI and a .286 batting average, with a .380 on-base percentage and .552 hitting percentage.

Manny Ramirez, who teamed up with Ortiz in the middle of Boston’s roster for much of the 2000s, had better overall stats but has yet to make it to Cooperstown. In his sixth appearance on the ballot, Ramirez garnered just 28.9% of the vote, reflecting many writers’ stance on players who have served suspensions for steroid use.

The Hall of Fame has never given specific advice on evaluating the so-called era of steroids, but the institution asks the authors to take into account not only the players’ records on the field, but also their “integrity, character and sportsmanship”. It’s up to individual voters to interpret what that means, and some have distinguished between drug use before and after testing. (The New York Times does not allow writers to vote.)

Ramirez has been suspended twice and Alex Rodriguez once. Rodriguez, who hit 696 career homers, achieved a surprising public comeback, becoming ubiquitous on television and social media and join a group of professional basketball owners. But he didn’t persuade writers to ignore his misdeeds and won 34.3% of the vote when he first appeared on the ballot.

As a Yankee in 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids in the past and asked people to “judge me from this day forward” at a press conference. But he soon returned to banned drugs, admitting to investigators that he used performance-enhancing substances from 2010 to 2012, leading to a suspension for the 2014 season.

Among the other candidates on the ballot, Scott Rolen, a third baseman, continued to gain ground in view of a possible election. Rolen, who has spent most of his career in Philadelphia and St. Louis, won 63.2% of the vote, down from 52.9% last year and 35.3% in 2020. There is no only 17 Hall of Fame third basemen — the fewest for any position — and Rolen has won eight Golden Gloves.

Todd Helton is on a similar trajectory, hitting 52%, up from 44.9 last year and 29.2 in 2020. While Helton has played his home games in Colorado’s batting paradise, his .316 average, his .414 on-base percentage and his .539 slugging percentage was extraordinary; the only players to top triple digits (with at least 3,000 board appearances) are Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

Schilling tended to get elected, garnering 71.1% of the vote last year, more than any other candidate. Known for being one of baseball’s top performers in October, including as a teammate of Ortiz, Schilling has since amped up his rhetoric on social media and asked the Hall of Fame to remove his name from the ballot because he didn’t respect writers. Hall denied the request, but another equally raced finisher did it for him.

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Newsrust - US Top News: David Ortiz elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
David Ortiz elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
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