How David Ortiz became a first-ballot Hall of Famer

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WEEI’s Live BP Show
Live BP, Ep. 10: David Ortiz is headed to Cooperstown
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While David Ortiz conducted Zoom call after Zoom call in his technicolor dream coat of a shirt, with his father sitting dutifully by his side during every celebratory minute, the social media statements and reaction started trickling in.

Roger Clemens had missed the mark after 10 times trying, as had both Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling. In fact, when the ultimate announcement was made, nobody other than Ortiz was really close to the 75 percent needed for induction.

The 30 players littering the 2022 Hall of Fame ballot just couldn't overcome what they needed to overcome ... with one exception. Ortiz.

"This is something that you know, it's a next-level type of thing," the newest Hall-of-Famer revealed from his Dominican Republic home. "You don't receive this phone call every day. I accomplished so many wonderful things during my career, I won so many championships, I got so many good hits, I put so many smiles on people's faces that it's hard. A lot of people always ask me, tell me one of those moments that sticks with you even now that you don't play, and I have so many great and wonderful times while I played, but this one, it's the type of baby that you just want to hold onto it and never let go. It's just something that you don't receive that type of phone call on a daily basis. You're talking about what, 340 players? You know how many players have played in a Major League Baseball game over the last 100 years and only 340 players are capable of being part of this pack. That's something that is amazing."

This was David Ortiz's moment, and only David Ortiz's moment.

The Cooperstown-area house rentals. The celebratory social media tributes. The anticipation of what is said and what isn't during that July 24 induction ceremony. They will all be the product of one person.

Thanks in large part to the great work of Hall of Famer tracker Ryan Thibodaux we could (kind of) see this coming. In the public ballots released via social media, Ortiz was getting a lot of online love, with Clemens' and Bonds' candidacy still some surprisingly being kept on life support.

But when the results were tabulated, it was the Red Sox slugger who stood alone in weathering the storm of voting uncertainty.

So, how did Ortiz fend off the kind of slings and arrows that pushed a slew of deserving candidates well under the 75 percent threshold, and doing on the first ballot, nonetheless? In some ways, it was the perfect storm of accomplishments and perception.

Perhaps the most potent piece of the puzzle for Ortiz was something as simple as his last impression. That would have been just more than five years ago, when he was absolutely raking as one of the best hitters in baseball. For voters, that was clearly still fresh in their minds.

Think about how long it had been since those deciding on the likes of Clemens, Bonds and Schilling had last seen the heights of their powers. For the former ace, it had been 16 years since he made as many as 20 starts. The San Francisco slugger? He pretty much petered out in 2004. And Schilling threw his last pitch in a Red Sox uniform during a Cincinnati bullpen session 13 years ago.

Ortiz has also been out and about, remaining in the public eye, which is never a bad thing when it comes to Hall of Fame conversation. Every time you see the former designated hitter, you are subtly reminded why he is the one being asked to do those commercials or broadcasts. That helps.

Alex Rodriguez understood such a dynamic, trying to his conversation inside-out through life as a gregarious media member. Sorry. Voters showed that why there is more of an acceptance for PED-linkage, if you are suspended for such a transgression there be a price to pay. Rodriguez's price? Just 34.3 percent of voters checked off his name.

Finally, we can't discount the way Ortiz did what he did.

This is going to come as a shock to some, but even baseball writers seem to pay attention a little bit closer when the games mean more. And it was in those instances - on the biggest stages - that Ortiz reminded the baseball-watching world that he was really, really good.

In the end, it was refreshing that we saved ourselves from going through the silly exercise of first-ballot prejudice, or those "maybe in a few years" conversations. Hopefully, that is sort of thinking is another part of how we hope the new generation of voters can evolve the exercise.

David Ortiz has been a Hall of Famer for some time. Now it is official.

Through it all, it really isn't all that complicated.