BOSTON (CBS) — Just about anyone who shared a clubhouse with David Ortiz would argue that Big Papi was and is a legend of the game, one who deserves immediate enshrinement in Cooperstown. Jon Lester is certainly among that group.
The recently retired left-hander spent the first nine years of his big league career as a teammate of Ortiz. Lester was a minor leaguer in the Red Sox organization in 2004 when Ortiz became a part of Boston and baseball history, and he was a part of the team when the Red Sox won World Series in 2007 and 2013.
Speaking with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on the day of his retirement from baseball, Lester was asked if a trip to Cooperstown for a David Ortiz induction ceremony will be on his to-do list this summer.
“I mean, I hope so. I just, I really hope he is. I hope it’s the first ballot, I hope that that he gets in and he gets what he deserves,” Lester said. “He worked so hard, going from kind of a cast-off with the Twins to being a World Series hero with the Red Sox for so many years. And to do it for as long as he did is incredible.”
As of Jan. 13, Ortiz has been on the ballots of 84 percent of voters who have announced their selections for this year’s class. (Players need 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement.) Those voters, however, represent just 41.3 percent of the voting members of the BBWAA, so his status for this year remains very much unknown.
When that Hall of Fame announcement does come later this month, Lester feels strongly that Ortiz should be named.
“100 percent,” Lester said when asked if Ortiz was the greatest clutch hitter he’s ever seen. “And it always seemed to be in the biggest games too. So I just hope that he gets in and he gets what he deserves. I mean, I think you know people always try to use the argument of the DH, and I just [think] if you don’t want to let somebody into the Hall of Fame, then don’t have the position. That’s kind of how I look at it. We just got Edgar [Martinez] in, which is a good stepping stone for David. Obviously, you have the Edgar Martinez Award which, I would imagine, I mean I grew up watching Edgar, I love and respect him, I think he’s one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time. I would imagine that award at some point gets turned over to the David Ortiz Award. And with that comes that plaque in Cooperstown.”