Big Papi made it to Cooperstown in his first shot. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens failed in their final attempt.
David Ortiz, the beloved Red Sox slugger who led Boston to three World Series championships, is the newest member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Ortiz, 46, was chosen on 77.9% of the ballots to surpass the required 75% of the votes needed from the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday. Ortiz becomes the 58th player to earn election in his first year of eligibility.
The new inductee will be enshrined on July 24 in Cooperstown, New York, along with Early Baseball Era Committee selections Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler, and Golden Days Era Committee selections Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva.
Bonds, baseball’s home run champion and seven-time National League MVP, and Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, again failed to garner 75% of the ballots needed for enshrinement. The two players, who have been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use during the latter stages of their careers, were both in their 10th and final year of eligibility.
Bonds received 66% of the votes, while Clemens received 65%. Scott Rolen was fourth at 63%.
Alex Rodriguez, another player tied to PEDs during his career, was on the ballot for the first time but did not have enough votes for induction.
Ortiz, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, joins former teammate Pedro Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as the only Dominican players to be elected to the Hall. He also becomes the fifth player who played most of his career with the Red Sox to be elected in his first year of eligibility. Ortiz joins Ted Williams (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1989), Wade Boggs (2005) and Martinez (2015).
Ortiz finished his career with 541 home runs, 1,768 RBI and scored 1,419 runs. He had a career batting average of .286. Ortiz led the American League in RBI in back-to-back seasons, driving in 148 runs in 2005 and 137 in 2006. He also led the A.L. with 54 home runs in 2006.
During Ortiz’s peak seasons, from 2002 to 2016, he hit 503 home runs and had 1,076 extra-base hits, according to The Athletic. Over those 15 seasons, Ortiz averaged 34 home runs and 72 extra-base hits, according to the website.
Ortiz, along with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson, are the only hitters with more than 500 home runs to play on at least three World Series champions.
The knock against Ortiz getting into the Hall -- other than the PED rumors -- is that 84.2% of his plate appearances were as a designated hitter, according to MLB.com. However, the election of Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines since 2014 has reduced the biases against DHs. Edgar Martinez made 71.4% of his plate appearances as a DH.
There had been speculation that Ortiz would miss induction due to a positive test in 2003 for performance-enhancing drugs, The New York Times reported. MLB had conducted survey testing (without penalties) that was supposed to have remained anonymous, but Ortiz’s name was among those leaked. But no substance was identified, and Commissioner Rob Manfred and then-union head Michael Weiner both cited scientific questions as reasons not to consider it a positive test, The Athletic reported.
Bonds and Clemens were shut out again, along with Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa. All were in the final year of eligibility on the writers’ ballots.
However, Bonds, Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for a second time in 11 months, Sports Illustrated reported.
Because their eligibility has been exhausted on the writers’ ballot, the quartet’s candidacy can be considered by the 16-person Today’s Game Era Committee, which is scheduled to meet in December. The committee meets twice every five years, and that creates an unusual quirk, where the four players can have two shots in one year to earn election to Cooperstown.
Players who are not elected from the Today’s Game committee will get another shot in 2024.
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