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Perhaps as an indication that no love was lost between Williams and members of the media years after his retirement, 20 out of 302 Hall of Fame voters refused to place him on the ballot in his first year of eligibility into Cooperstown.
His love for teaching other hitters the tricks of the trade helped reward him with a manager’s job in 1969 for Washington—where he gave the second version of the Senators their only winning record (86-76) before their move to Texas—but he lasted just four years, released after losing 100 for the 1972 Rangers.
The bigger the stage in October, the better Ortiz was; nobody has a higher batting average, on-base percentage of slugging percentage in World Series history than he has, hitting .455 with six doubles, three homers, 14 RBIs and 14 walks in 14 career Fall Classic contests.
An intense competitor who was exceptionally smooth with both the bat and glove, Speaker did most of his career damage for the Cleveland Indians—but is better remembered for his early days in Boston, where he helped the Red Sox to two World Series titles, including his famous ‘second-chance’ single after a foul pop-up was dropped, crucially aiding a walk-off rally in the final game of the 1912 Fall Classic against the New York Giants.
When he arrived at Boston training camp in 1938 as a tall, skinny 18-year-old prospect from San Diego, a brash Williams felt disrespect from Red Sox veterans and warned them that he’d soon be making more money than the rest of them put together.
Williams quickly walked the walk after talking the talk, returning a year later following a monster warm-up at Triple-A Minneapolis and proceeded to become, arguably, the greatest hitter of all time.
Ortiz’s shine was tarnished, however, when his name was leaked from a secret list of major leaguers who tested positive for steroids in 2003.
The revelations coincided with a career slide that, as he entered his mid-30s, suggested that Ortiz was fading out.
Speaker’s tenure in Boston ended early after just nine years; he refused to report in 1916 when the Red Sox wanted to cut his salary in half—all because his batting average had dropped three years in succession (never mind that it bottomed out at a still-sterling .322).
Big Papi was the latest, most productive—and certainly the most popular—in a line of big, burly Red Sox players that includes George Scott and Mo Vaughn.
After several years failing to make a go of it at Minnesota, Ortiz became an instant hit in Boston after and ultimately emerged as one of the game’s most beloved baseball personalities, the prime power source who energized the Red Sox to their first three World Series titles after nearly 100 years of championship drought.
Known for his routine of spitting on his batting gloves and slapping them together between every pitch (until baseball’s pace-of-play rules threatened to put an end to it in 2015), Ortiz put up voluminous numbers at his peak, forming a devastating one-two punch with Manny Ramirez that helped make history when, in 2004, the two became the first pair of teammates since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1931 to each hit over .300 with over 40 homers and 130 RBIs in the same year.
On his own, he launched a Red Sox-record 54 home runs in 2006.