Say it ain’t so, Big Papi! Ortiz to retire

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BOSTON – Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, whose clutch hitting led to the team’s first World Series championship in 86 years and then two more, plans to make next season his farewell tour, reported Tuesday.

The designated hitter for the Red Sox, who turns 40 years of age Wednesday, will announce his career plans on his birthday, according to USA Today. While the team hasn’t made any official comment, it has an story reporting on Ortiz’s pending retirement posted on its website.

Ortiz, whose contract calls for $16 million for the 2016 season, hit 37 home runs and had 108 runs batted in, his best performance in those categories since 2007, according to a story on Major League Baseball’s website, He has hit 503 homers in his 19-year career.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ortiz famously declared his allegiance to the team’s hometown before a game in Fenway Park several days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the citywide lockdown that followed. His remarks provided an inspiration to many in the region. The Sox won the World Series again that year, coming back from a last-place finish in 2012. Ortiz was named the most valuable player in the series, hitting .688 with two home runs.

But arguably his most memorable moments on the diamond came during the American League Championship Series in 2004, when his walk-off home run in game four against the much-reviled New York Yankees kept the Sox alive after being down three games to none. He hit a walk-off single in the next tilt and belted a two-run home run to propel the team to victory in game seven.

The Red Sox became the first and only Major League Baseball team to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a championship series, according to The Sox anticlimactically swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

Team owner John Henry had a plaque made for the slugger the next year. It declared simply: “The Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, No. 34.”