The Twins released Ortiz after the 2002 season and went on to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Three world championship titles later, Big Papi was born on his way to Cooperstown.
During his Hall of Fame address on Sunday afternoon, Ortiz thanked the twins and several of his coaches for paving his way into the majors while also expressing his admiration for his time with the twins.
“Before I became Big Papi, before the Red Sox, before the Twins, I was just a kid playing ball in the Dominican Republic. For all my coaches from winter football, the minor league and the big leagues, I wouldn’t have done it without you.”
Ortiz went on to describe how John Russell and Al Newman worked to build his confidence in the minor leagues and helped him make it to Minnesota soon after he was traded from the Seattle Mariners in 1997.
While a series of injuries and inconsistencies eventually convinced the twins to release him for Matt Lecroy, Ortiz was grateful for what he learned during his time in Minnesota.
Go to follow
“Although it didn’t work out the way everyone expected, I learned from my time there that once I got my shot elsewhere, I would work hard not to let it pass until the last day I played.” Ortiz said.
Ortiz also thanked fellow Hall of Famer Kirby Bucket, who helped him adjust to the majors.
“I miss him so much,” Ortiz said. “He taught me so much about the game. He gave me so many tips and he was so great to me that when I went to Boston, I started wearing his number 34. God bless you Kirby, wherever God is.”
Ortiz went on to thank Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and several teammates in the early 2000s including LaTroy Hawkins, Eddie Guardado, Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Matt Lawton and Brad Radke.
“All of these guys, they were very supportive of me when they played with the twins,” Ortiz said. “I love you guys. From the bottom of my heart.”
Ortiz concluded by saying that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. He stated that it changed his life and left a final thank you to everyone who helped him.
“To everyone who believed in me…I know I couldn’t have done it without you. My Hall of Fame represents each and every one of you and I will thank you guys for the rest of my life.”
Fans of the twins wish Ortiz’s career could come to an end in Minnesota, but it seems his time here had a huge impact on his Hall of Fame career.