Ortiz overwhelmed by visit to Hall of Fame
“This is like a dream come true to be honest with you,” the awestruck slugger said. “I still can’t believe. It’s gonna take me a minute to get there. This is it. This is it.”
The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 member was in Cooperstown for his Orientation Visit afforded all new electees on May 2. He was wrapping up an afternoon of touring the Museum and was now taking questions from the assembled media, a half-dozen cameras recording his every word.
“But now that you walk around and see it you have that connection where you’re like, ‘Wow! I’m so glad I did.’ Now I’m proud of it. And now I can walk around and be like, ‘This is super cool.’”
As for the tour led by Erik Strohl, the Hall’s vice president of exhibitions and collections, it exposed Ortiz to baseball history dating back to the 1840s through the present.
Inquisitive, surprised and trying to soak it all in along the way, Ortiz noticed Honus Wagner batted over .300 17 consecutive seasons (“That’s hard to do.”), saw a Babe Ruth bat with notches in it representing homers (“I don’t think you can do that.”), took in a pair of Honey Boy Evans trophies (“I don’t think I have room for one of those in my house.”) and read about Cy Young (“751 complete games!”).
In collections storage, Ortiz swung bats used by Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mike Trout and Wagner, held a Pedro Martínez cap, was reunited with the batting gloves he donated from when he hit his 400th home run, and gripped the ball that first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught for the final out of the 2004 World Series to end a long championship drought (“You got it! That was a big deal.”).
With the Red Sox, with whom Ortiz would play the final 14 seasons of his career, he helped the franchise, which had gone since 1918 without a World Series title, to a trio of Fall Classic crowns in 2004, 2007 and 2013. Overall, he would help lead Boston to the postseason eight times, taking home Most Valuable Player honors in both the 2004 American League Championship Series and the 2013 World Series.
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum