While David Ortiz will always be remembered as a member of the Boston Red Sox, his MLB career began with the Minnesota Twins. In his upcoming memoir, Big Papi shared some displeasure with the Minnesota organization, specifically regarding his old manager Tom Kelly.
“I know he’s recognized as a good baseball man, but he struck me as a guy who believed his players were dumb,” Ortiz said, as transcribed by Howard Sinker of the Star Tribune. “There was a game where Kelly thought the team was too sloppy, so he ordered the players onto the field after the game. Come on. It’s major league baseball. I’d never seen anyone do that before, and I haven’t seen anyone do it since.”
Kelly retired as Minnesota’s manager following the 2001 season. Ortiz was released by the organization after the following season. He signed with the Red Sox ahead of the 2003 season and went on to a career that will likely earn him a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Ortiz is clearly taking issue with managers who acted as disciplinarians. In another passage, he also took issue with the way Bobby Valentine managed Boston in 2012.
At least from these passages, we’re seeing only one side of stories that are probably far more complicated than they’re being portrayed.
For example, it’s undeniable that Valentine had plenty of issues in his one year as the Red Sox skipper. But Valentine was only brought in for 2012 because the team had such a monumental collapse the year before under the more easy going Terry Francona.
The issue with the Twins is similar. Yes, it’s essentially unprecedented for an MLB manager to call his team onto the field after a game. But Kelly’s final season of 2001 ended a string of eight straight in which Minnesota finished with a losing record. That doesn’t mean his action was right. But it’s reasonable to think that in Kelly’s mind, he needed to try something different because nothing else was working for so long.
Perhaps we should cut the guy some slack. After all, Kelly did win two World Series championships of his own, including a worst-to-first title in 1991.
At least from the passages we’ve seen, Ortiz’s memoir deals a fair amount in revisionist history and sour grapes. We have to hope that the rest strays from that.
Big Papi is not only one of the game’s great all-time sluggers, but one of its great personalities. That’s how he should be remembered, and he shouldn’t be doing anything to take away from that.