There would be no long, agonizing delay for David Ortiz‘s celebration. On Saturday he put #500 behind him.
In a satisfying win over the Rays at Tampa Bay, the Red Sox belted five home runs Saturday, matching a season high that was set on a promising Opening Day, April 6th at Philadelphia.
The quest for #500 started 6,572 days ago, on September 14, 1997, when Ortiz hit his first home run. On that it came in Texas against Rangers pitcher Julio Santana. Hardly clutch (his team was up 6-0 at the time), the 2-run blast to right field came on a 1-0 count with 2 outs in the 4th inning and scored teammate Marty Cordova.
18 years later, a big night in Tampa
Boston’s 10 runs Saturday was the club’s most at Tropicana Field since scoring 11 on May 26, 2010. The Sox improved to 11-0 when scoring 10+ runs in St. Petersburg.
But on this, the 141st game of a dreadful 2015 season, it was Ortiz Home Run #500 that meant the most to Red Sox Nation. Despite it coming on the road, at least it was accompanied by an enthusiastic Don Orsillo call that will be played back in NESN retrospectives for years to come.
And though it was his 442nd Red Sox home run, Big Papi is the 4th player to wear a Boston jersey when achieving the 500 milestone (his first 58 came as a member of the Twins). The other players to achieve 500 HRs while a member of the Red Sox are Jimmie Foxx on September 24, 1940, Ted Williams on June 17, 1960, and Manny Ramirez on May 31, 2008. No team in baseball has had four players reach the 500 HR feat. Only Williams collected all 500 home runs with Boston.
Home Run #500 was the 2nd HR of the day for Ortiz, who put Boston on top 3-0 in the top of the first inning. #500 came as a solo shot in the 5th, clocked at 428 feet to right field. Fittingly, it marked the 50th multi-home run game of Ortiz’ career. Ortiz now has the 13th most multi-HR games in baseball since at least 1914. Babe Ruth had the most (72), Barry Bonds had 71.
It was Ortiz’ 6th career multi-home run game at Tropicana Field, tying Carlos Pena for the most in the park’s history, including Rays players. Big Papi’s 33 home runs in St. Petersburg are the most of any visiting player and ranks 9th in the ballpark’s history, again, including Rays players.
There would be no first-ever 3-home run game for David on Saturday. Instead, he singled in the 7th before leaving the game to a big ovation. His three hits now gives him four more than Hall of Famer Joe Cronin (with Boston 1935-45), whose No. 4 was retired at Fenway Park in 1984.