Matt’s Letter Essay #9: Big Papi



I recently finished reading Big Papi. It’s my 38th book read this year, out of 40, and the book is a 288 page informational, sports, or biography. I have completed my personal goal to read 40 books, although I will complete this challenge Wednesday, June 8th. This means I will have also completed the 40 book challenge, for the number of books and genres. The authors are David Ortiz himself, and Tony Massarotti. The book was published on April 1, 2008. This is the only book that David Ortiz has published, but I wish he made more books with more time. The book is about David Ortiz, a now forty year old baseball player for the Boston Red Sox. He has been with the Red Sox since 2003, which is fourteen out of the twenty seasons in his career. For the previous seven seasons, he was with the Twins, but not as well- known yet. He’s mainly a DH or designated hitter, and has played there for twenty seasons, meaning that he just hits at this position. He has also played first base for parts of 18 seasons. He’s 3- 0 in World Series games, 3- 3 in ALCS or American League Championship Series games, and 6- 2 in ALDS or American League Divisional Series games. He’s won World Series in 2004, 2007, and 2013 (which didn’t happen until after the book was published). The 2016 season is his final season, and it will be tough for me to see him leave baseball, since I’m a huge Big Papi and Red Sox fan. I read this because as I stated before, I’m like Big Papi and the Red Sox a lot. Also, I enjoy reading about sports, and I haven’t read a baseball book yet, so I thought it would be good to read. Lastly, it is a New York Times Bestseller, and almost all of those books are good reads.

In the novel, the main (only) character is David Ortiz, or “Big Papi,” because it’s his book and biography. It’s an interesting story because he wasn’t always the big- time home run hitter and clutch hitter that we know today. It’s unbelievable to me that he almost always comes up with the hit that ties or wins the game. Even more crazy, he was part of the 3- 0 ALCS comeback against the Yankees, where the Red Sox won four straight to take the best of seven series. He broke the franchise record for home runs in a season with 54 (seasons are 162 games). He also started in the All- Star game and won the World Series in 2007. He is known for having a great sense, of humor which is well- documented. Even down in big games or series, he always had fun and enjoyed the game, which I think is a key piece to a team’s success. If you get too nervous, you won’t be able to make the key plays and enjoy the game, which is why you play. I admire him because of this, since I’m the type of person who would panic in important situations when I play my baseball games. I guess he’s had a lot to face in life, and with experience there’s not much that bothers him anymore. It can only wish that I would be able to meet him, but I know that’s unlikely to happen.


Lastly, I liked the way the author (David Ortiz) details his journey from struggling in the minor leagues, starting to find success in the MLB, and then joining the Red Sox and being successful as a late- game hero. As I stated before, it’s hard to believe that he ever struggled in baseball, because he does almost everything flawlessly as a hitter. I’d say the theme of this book is to never give up on life, and also to stay calm no matter what the situation is. Had Ortiz given up on his life, he probably wouldn’t be playing baseball anymore, and the Red Sox may not have won any championships, so he wouldn’t have won any either. If he had gotten nervous in these big situations, that would be a recurring habit, and there’s no way he could hit the ball hard while being nervous. I was interested in this passage, when Ortiz and his Red Sox teammates are still celebrating in April once the 2005 season started.

“The 2004 season didn’t end when we won the World Series. It just kept going, right into spring training, right into Opening Day, right into our home opener, when we got our championship rings. It was April bro. And we were still celebrating” (p. 204).

I like this quoted passage because it shows how excited the Red Sox were as a team, going 86 years without winning a championship until 2004. They last won in 1918, but in Big Papi’s second season with the team, they won it all. This is why they were still celebrating in the 2005 season. I would give this book a 9.5 out of 10, because it’s almost one of the best books I’ve read, and also really interesting on how “Big Papi” goes in- depth on his seasons, games, and at- bats. The book teaches you some important life- lessons, and I would recommend you read it.



Matt Urso

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