Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz chose the occasion of his 40th birthday on Wednesday to share with fans that 2016 will be his last in Major League Baseball.
“I thought a lot about it,” the man known as “Big Papi” said in a heartfelt video interview posted on Derek Jeter’s website, The Players’ Tribune. “For every single one of us athletes, we run out of time at some point.”
He said he is “ready to experience the next [chapter] in my life.”
In addressing the legacy he leaves behind in Boston, with more than a decade as the heart and soul of the team and three World Series titles under his belt, Ortiz said, “I would like people to remember me as a guy who was just part of the family. A guy trying to do the best, not only on the field.”
Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Nov. 18, 1975, Ortiz spent his first six seasons as a part-time player with the Minnesota Twins.
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“I see how people struggle out there,” he said in the video. “I struggled before, and I know how hard it is to make it to the top. It’s something I thank God for every day.”
He continued, “I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished over the years.”
Those accomplishments include a .284 career batting average, 2,303 hits, 503 home runs, 1,641 runs batted in, 9 seasons of 30 or more homers along with 100 or more RBI, 9 All-Star Game selections.
He is 27th on baseball's career homer list, one behind Eddie Murray.
The 447 homers he hit while in the lineup as a designated hitter is the most since the position was established in 1973. He was been named the AL's DH of the year a record seven times, surpassing the five won by Edgar Martinez, for whom the award is named.
“I wish I could play another 40 years,” Ortiz said in the video, and at times it has seemed like he could.
Last season was another excellent one for the finest designated hitter of his, or any other, generation. He had a .273 average, 37 homers and 108 RBI.
In 2003, Ortiz reportedly failed a performance-enhancing drug test, before such tests carried penalties. He has been dogged by rumors since then, but no evidence or failed test has come out in the public record.
Ortiz has always been a joyful, charismatic leader. After the Boston Marathon bombing in the spring of 2013, he uttered an expletive during an observance before the team’s next home game at Fenway Park.
“This is our f---ing city!” he said in defiance and solidarity with fans. Then he led the team to the World Series, where he hit an outrageous .688 with two home runs against the St. Louis Cardinals and was named the series' Most Valuable Player.
In a brief text that accompanies the Players Tribune video, Ortiz wrote, “I want to share this with you today on my 40th birthday, because I want the focus this season to be on the team and bringing a championship back to the city of Boston.”
He concluded the video with a similar thought: “After next year, time is up, so let’s enjoy next season!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.