Thinking about David Ortiz retiring after this season is as fun as seeing that orange envelope on your windshield after class. When he first announced this season would be his last, I entered a stage of denial. As the season progressed, and the reality of Ortiz’s retirement sank in as it became clear his feet were failing him, I was forced to accept it. Aside from having an incredible season to go out on, the only thing making this more bearable is seeing all of the retirement gifts Big Papi has received in his final series’ at each park. Though the season is not yet over, I’m going to grade the presents Papi has received so far from the worst to the best.
Following this season, the Large Father will have no problem redecorating his home, granted he doesn’t mind the walls being covered with his face. Ortiz received an abundance of portraits of himself from teams including the Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers. Though no two portraits are alike- they vary from All Star game pictures, to general pictures of the slugger- I give the portrait a Grade D. The point of the farewell gift is to incorporate some aspect of the home team’s culture, while also providing something thoughtful and relevant to Papi’s career. The portrait is the equivalent to getting somebody a gift card because you weren’t creative enough for anything else.
Moving on from portraits, this retirement season has been almost enough to fashion a full cowboy outfit for Ortiz. Combining his custom cowboy boots and name belt from the Texas Rangers with the custom black Stetson cowboy hat from the Astros, Ortiz may soon be mistaken for a cowboy rather than a baseball player. Not the best in terms of relevance to Ortiz, but a good job of gifting something culturally relevant to the home team. Final Grade on Cowboy gear: C.
And now for the best farewell presents. The Minnesota Twins gave one of the most thoughtful and surprising gifts. Prior to the series, I wondered what they would come up with, as they released Ortiz in 2002. A 64-ounce jar of peanut butter may not sound like the best present to sum up a career as stellar as Ortiz’s, but in this case it was incredibly meaningful. When he was apart of the Minnesota organization, Ortiz fell victim to a clubhouse prank when former Twins player, Corey Koskie, lined Ortiz’s underwear with peanut butter. The large jar of peanut butter was a nod to a funny memory, and was accompanied by a $10,000 donation in his name to the late Kirby Puckett’s scholarship program. Twins gift receives an honorable B.
And finally, perhaps my favorite gift choice is unfair as it goes against my general ruling of being relevant to Ortiz but also relevant to the home team. My favorite farewell gift so far came just a few weeks ago in San Diego. When you picture David Ortiz, a 6’3” 230 pound burly man, you might not picture him atop a surfboard, carving up the waves off the coast of California. For some reason, that’s exactly what the Padres must have pictured when they presented Ortiz with a custom surfboard in his last series at Petco Park. Sure this could be classified as a portrait, but this is creative. It doesn’t hurt that the gift was presented by Don Orsillo, (I’m not crying, you’re crying) the longtime NESN play-by-play announcer who called Ortiz’s 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th, and 500th home runs. Shockingly, Papi revealed that he had never surfed before, but he would start now.
Other generous gifts to the retiree include multiple donations to David Ortiz’ Children Fund, as well as donations made in his name to various charities across the country. With series in Tampa Bay, Baltimore, New York, and of course Fenway still left to play, there’s plenty of time for more portraits and more gifts for the DH we’re all going to miss dearly.