Boston Red Sox legendary slugger David Ortiz was the lone player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, which saw San Francisco Giants icon Barry Bonds and ace pitcher Roger Clemens shut out.
Ortiz, aka ‘Big Papi’, was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, finishing with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility.
Ortiz, 6, also becomes the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall of Fame.
“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said, according to ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”
Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, but it has been a point of contention, especially now, following the release of a 2009 story in The New York Times that stated Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003.
Ortiz responded, again, to those suspicions on Tuesday – “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”
“When I see these guys, to be honest with you, I don’t even compare myself with them,” Ortiz said. “I saw so many times, with them performing, and it was something that was very special. Now, not having them join me at this time is something that it’s hard for me to believe. Those guys, they did it all.”
“David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” Red Sox president & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement put out by the team. “He came to Boston in relative anonymity and with his captivating personality and his formidable bat he shattered expectations and paved the franchise’s future in championships.”
“When I first got to Boston, I used to look up at those guys like, ‘Wow, I don’t think you can be part of that pack at all,'” Ortiz said. “You’re talking about real legendary, real OG. But they began their career just like I did. Not with the thought that they were going to end up where they are.”
“I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today,” Ortiz said. “I don’t even have to tell you about the Dominican Republic. It’s a country that breathes baseball. And people are very excited right here. Everything is going crazy right now.”