David Ortiz had a long list of people to thank when he delivered his Hall of Fame induction speech on Sunday, but one of his former managers did not make the cut. That is hardly a surprise.
At one point during his speech, Ortiz heaped praise on all of his former Boston Red Sox managers but one. He began by talking about Grady Little, who only managed Ortiz in Boston for one season and is most remembered for his decision to leave Pedro Martinez in with a three-run lead against the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Big Papi made sure to paint Little in a positive light in Cooperstown.
“When I first came to Boston, I had a manager named Grady Little. My very first at-bat against the Twins in spring training, I tried to move a runner over,” Ortiz recalled. “I thought when I got back to the dugout everybody was gonna high-five me. Everybody stayed sitting. The manager pulled me to the side and told me, ‘Hey, big boy, I don’t want you to be here to move them over, I want you to be here to bring them in.’ The rest is history.”
Ortiz then praised Terry Francona, who managed the Red Sox from 2004-11, and John Farrell, who was the manager in Boston from 2013-17. Ortiz won two World Series titles under Francona and one under Farrell.
“Then, I was lucky enough to play for a guy named Terry Francona. He had at the time a guy named John Farrell as a bench coach, who took over as the manager,” Ortiz said. “These guys did nothing but build my confidence, even throughout tough times. I love you guys and I’m always gonna have you guys in my heart. Tito, wherever you are man, you know Papi’s got you. John as well.”
So what happened to 2012? Ferrell did not take over immediately after Francona left. There was one season in between, a season that was a total circus in Boston. Bobby Valentine was the ring leader. The Red Sox won just 69 games and were the laughingstock of Major League Baseball that year. Valentine accused Ortiz of quitting on the team. Big Papi then made some harsh comments about Valentine after the season.
Valentine’s omission on Sunday was hardly a coincidence, but it was one that many Red Sox fans will find entertaining.