Boston Red Sox’s “Big Papi” was voted in on his first ballot, but Bonds and Sammy Sosa lost their tries at eligibility.
Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz — the designated hitter and first baseman also known as “Big Papi” — has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, his very first year of eligibility.
Having received 77.9% of the vote from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America — winning 307 out of 397 — Ortiz will be, at 46, the youngest of the hall’s 75 living members, according to ESPN.
Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz (left) has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Pittsburgh Pirates/San Francisco Giants icon Barry Bonds (right) has been shut out in his final year of eligibility. (Photos: Manolito Jimenez/AP and Paul Sakuma/AP)
However, the selection of inductees was not positive for others: Both Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa have been shut out by the Basketball Writers Association of America in their final year of eligibility due to allegations of their use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In an interview with ESPN, a thrilled Ortiz said he first thanks God for giving him the “opportunity to be part of this very elite group of players. That’s what pretty much every player dreams of.” He also thanked his family for their support, his fans and the Boston Red Sox organization, as well as that of the Minnesota Twins, where he started his career.
In addition, Ortiz thanked everyone who encouraged him to be the player and person he became, noting, “I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot.”
“Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo,” said Ortiz. “It’s something that is very special to me.”
Per ESPN, given their legendary statistics, Bonds and Sosa would have been automatic first-ballot entrants into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but both men have been dogged by accusations of PED use. In 2005, Sosa testified under oath in front of the House Committee on Government Reform in an 11-hour hearing to pressure Major League Baseball to toughen its policy against steroids.
In 2011, Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice by a grand jury after being charged with four federal felony counts for denying under oath in 2003 that he had knowingly used steroids or human growth hormones and for maintaining that his personal trainer, Greg Anderson, had never injected him.
Ortiz has been accused of using PEDs; in 2009, The New York Times reported that he had tested positive, however, those results were supposed to be sealed. Further, in 2016, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred negated Ortiz’s tests as inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”
He never tested positive again.
In celebrating Ortiz’s future induction, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement, “David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform. 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.”
Ortiz himself added, “I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today. 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.”
The 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place Sunday, July 24, on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York, and will be broadcast live exclusively on MLB Network. Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and Negro League legend and ambassador Buck O’Neil are among those being posthumously inducted.
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