American Icon: David (Big Papi) Ortiz

David Ortiz in Oakleys on

The first thing you noticed about David Ortiz was the sunglasses.

Well, at least that was the first thing we at American Sunglass noticed. His sunglasses were big. They were flashy. They were bold. Like many athletes, Ortiz’s brand of choice was Oakley. If you’re not familiar with Oakley, they are to sports sunglasses what Gatorade is to sports drinks. So it should come as no surprise that this is the brand Big Papi chose to wear when he took to the baseball diamond.

If ever there was an athlete that personified his sport, it was Ortiz. He was the epitome of clutch, amassing more than 20 walk-off RBIs in his career. Perhaps his most famous took place in 2004 when the Red Sox were facing elimination in the Bronx against the NY Yankees. In extra innings, Ortiz came up big, smashing a walk-off home run off Paul Quantrill for Boston’s first of four wins, becoming the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a seven game series.

And in the process, he brought Boston its first World Series since 1918, ending an 86-year drought (some would say curse) for the storied franchise. Ortiz would help the Sox win two more series – 2007 over the Colorado Rockies and 2013 over the St. Louis Cardinals.

His swing. That’s what most people noticed about Ortiz’s game. It was powerful and poetic, all at the same time. There was his grand slam in the eighth inning of the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Down 5-1, Ortiz hit the homer which tied the game in dramatic fashion as outfielder Torii Hunter flipped into the Red Sox bullpen as Boston police officer Steve Horgan raised his arms in triumph.

It’s just one of the iconic images we have of Ortiz who had a flair for the dramatic.

Writer Chad Finn of the Boston Globe once described Ortiz this way, “He is the greatest clutch hitter you, your dad, your granddad, and in all likelihood your unborn children will ever see. He’s Big Papi, larger than life, bigger than the biggest moments.”

But in Boston, Ortiz is known more for his ability to hit a baseball, despite the fact he hit 541 home runs during his 20-year career.

In Boston, Ortiz was t not only the face of the franchise. He was the face of the city. Five days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Ortiz spoke bluntly, telling fans at Fenway that,” This is our [bleeping] city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.” That one curse embodied the pain and emotion that those throughout the city felt in the aftermath of the horrific tragedy.

Ortiz has brought that same passion to his charitable work. The David Ortiz Children’s Fund has raised roughly $2 million over the past decade for children in the Dominican Republic and New England who would otherwise not have access to medical care.

His acts of charity went far beyond fundraising, proof that his heart is just as big as the smile that graces his face. Take this story, chronicled by ESPN earlier this year, that focuses on Ortiz’s 507th home run which he promised he would hit for 5-year-old Maverick Schutte, who suffers from a serious congenital heart defect.

That touching story is a microcosm of how Ortiz has impacted us. In many ways, we are not unlike Maverick looking for someone to look up to; someone to provide us with a glimmer of hope. Over the past 20 years, Ortiz has done that countless times, both on the field and off it.

And for that, we are grateful. Thank you, Big Papi.

In addition to Oakleys, we carry several other brands that offer the same type of protection, look and style for the serious athlete. These include Bolle (click here), Hobie (click here) and Native (click here).

Words of an Icon: “I just love the feeling from the fans and when I’m walking on deck and I can hear people screaming and wishing you the best. That puts you into the game more than anything.” – David Ortiz