David Ortiz’s postseason heroics with the Red Sox are a huge part of how his exceptional career will be remembered, but Big Papi was hitting dramatic homers before he was Big Papi.
I stumbled across this Associated Press article from 2001, when Ortiz was a 25-year-old in his second full season with the Twins:
Minnesota Twins designated hitter David Ortiz was placed on the disabled list Saturday, a day after breaking his right wrist diving into home plate.
Ortiz was injured Friday night in the fourth inning of Minnesota’s 6-2 victory over Kansas City. One inning later, he homered into the right-field bullpen, but rounding the bases he knew the pain was more than discomfort. He then went to a hospital for X-rays. Ortiz is expected to miss six to eight weeks. …
Twins’ trainers at first thought Ortiz hurt a thumb. “We asked David maybe 90 times or 100, I’m not sure, I lost track: Are you all right?” manager Tom Kelly said. “He said he was, so we let him hit. After he hit, the trainers said his wrist was starting to swell, so we got him out of there.”
Also worth noting amid the usual (and mostly deserved) grousing about the Twins cutting Ortiz following the 2002 season: He has the fifth-highest OPS in Twins history among all hitters with at least 1,500 plate appearances through age 26–which is when he left–behind only Joe Mauer, Kent Hrbek, Justin Morneau, and Lyman Bostock.
David Ortiz wasn’t always DAVID ORTIZ, but he could always hit. Even with a broken wrist.