Posted on July 23, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
On the eve of their entrance into baseball’s Hall of Fame, both Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. have voiced their support for a player who may one day join them in Cooperstown: Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. Piazza was perhaps less enthusiastic than Griffey, but both believe that Ortiz is deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame.
“I got a chance to see him young,” Griffey said at a press conference Saturday in preparation for his induction ceremony on Sunday. “He wasn’t Big Papi. He was ‘Thin Papi’ at that time. To watch him do the things he’s done over the years, he’s become one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. He’s the one guy where you say, ‘If we’re up by two, let’s just walk him and go for the next guy.’ He’s got a chance to put a team up by three real quick.”
“He’s done an incredible job in that city,” Griffey continued. “Do I think he’s a Hall of Famer? Absolutely. Just look at the numbers he’s put up: Three (World Series) titles, and the list of his accomplishments on the field goes on. You can’t take that away from him.”
Piazza was less glowing than Griffey, but still offered high praise for Ortiz. “I think David Ortiz is one of the most charismatic players to come along in a long time,” Piazza said. “Putting his numbers aside, I think he’s a great guy. He’s great for the city. He’s obviously very colorful and fun to watch.”
Piazza, who wasn’t elected into the Hall until his fourth try despite being arguably the best hitting catcher in the history of the game, believes Ortiz may face a similar situation. “I agree with Kenny, but I also believe there’s a process that you have to respect,” Piazza explained. “I know there are going to be debates out there on numbers and everything. Not one size fits all. It’s really an individual choice. You just have to respect the process and let it play itself out.”
Between the fact that Ortiz has been primarily a DH, starting just 264 games at first base in his career, and has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs, there may be a contingent of voters who are reluctant to give Ortiz entry into Cooperstown. Of course, the numbers speak volumes about his Hall of Fame credentials. Ortiz is a 10-time all-star with 527 home runs (19th all time) and 1,720 RBIs (23rd all time). The fact that Ortiz is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career this year at the age of 40 doesn’t hurt his chances either.
Of course, Ortiz will have to wait at least five years until the voters decide on his Hall of Fame credentials. He’s clearly one of the best hitters of his generation, and with the support showed by Griffey and Piazza on Saturday, he clearly has the support of his peers. In the end, it seems hard to envision a Hall of Fame without Big Papi.