#Shortstops: Shirt off the Winner's Back

Written by: Larkin Richards

On Oct. 27, 2004, the city of Boston rejoiced and said goodbye to the Curse of Bambino. After 86 years, the Red Sox had won a World Series.

Hall of Fame Class of 2022 electee David Ortiz was a large part of the Red Sox’s championship. After securing the title, Ortiz donated his World Series jersey to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ortiz entered the big leagues at 21 years old in 1997. After navigating his way through the industry, he joined the Red Sox in 2003. In just one season, Ortiz would become a central character in the 2004 success story.

"A Babe Ruth-type savant," New York Yankees Álex Rodríguez said of Ortiz in an ESPN article. "A-plus-plus-plus. An A-plus work ethic, A-plus in his video work and an A-plus for playing at a high level."

In the 2004 regular season, Ortiz recorded 41 home runs, 139 RBI, a .301 batting average and multiple game-winning hits to send the Red Sox to the World Series.

When entering the final postseason matchups with the St. Louis Cardinals in late October, Ortiz was determined to finish what he was called to do.

“He’s been in the zone all year,” Red Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson said to The Boston Globe. “The concentration is the main thing. He’s having all good at-bats. He’s hitting the ball to left field, right field and up the middle.

“And, when the game is on the line, he’s been a clutch hitter. I’ve been around a lot of great ones, including Frank Thomas and Albert Belle, and David tops them all, right now.”

In the final division series game that determined the Red Sox’s fate against the Los Angeles Angels, Ortiz hit a no-doubt walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.

After an epic ALCS vs. the Yankees, Ortiz would go on to help the Red Sox sweep the Cardinals in four games.

During the World Series, Ortiz took the field as a starting first baseman for two games in St. Louis, which caused concern in “Red Sox Nation” since Ortiz was primarily a designated hitter. He had 31 starts at first base that season and committed four errors.

“Every day I work the bag a little bit,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe. “One day, I’d like to possibly get a chance to play [in the field.] I’m only 28 years old. I don’t want everyone to know me as just a hitter.”

With the Red Sox beating the Cardinals 3-0 in Game 4, Ortiz and the Red Sox completed their mission.

The jersey preserved by the Museum is a white shirt with six clear buttons down the front placket and red piping around the neckline and down either side of the front placket.

The front chest has "Red Sox" in red and navy-blue lettering. The back of the jersey has "34" in red and navy blue numbering along with a small MLB logo at the top back of the neck. The right sleeve has the 2004 World Series patch.

Larkin Richards was the 2022 social media intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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