For fans who have followed David Ortiz for his entire career, it's been a wild ride. From his start as a talented but inconsistent first baseman who was released by his first team, the man nicknamed "Big Papi" has become one of baseball's most dangerous clutch hitters and a big part of two championship teams.
Signed at age 17 by the Seattle Mariners, the Dominican-born Ortiz was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1996 and made his first appearance in the big leagues a year later. In six seasons in Minnesota, Ortiz showed signs of promise but struggled with injuries and inconsistency. The Twins released him following the 2002 season, and he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox.
That proved to be money well spent. Ortiz belted 30-plus home runs in each of his first five seasons with the Red Sox, breaking the club record with 54 round-trippers in 2006. He also became a fan favorite and established a unique chemistry with mercurial slugger Manny Ramirez.
Like teammate Josh Beckett, Ortiz has shined the brightest when the stakes were highest. His uncanny knack for hitting walk-off home runs reached a pinnacle in 2004, when he became the first player to hit two game-ending homers in the same post-season.
Big Papi's heroics have had him on the radar of baseball card collectors in Boston and beyond for some time, so his 1997 rookie cards don't come cheap. Note that he appears as David Arias-Ortiz on those cards due to some confusion about his real last name early in his career.
David Ortiz 1997 Rookie Cards
- Fleer # 512
- Ultra # 518