With David Ortiz’s historic career coming to a close at the end of this season, his farewell tour throughout the year brought back memories of Derek Jeter’s farewell tour just two years ago. The comparison of the two future Hall-of-Famers’ last seasons brought up the question: who had the better farewell tour, Big Papi or the Captain? Daily Campus staff writers Molly Burkhardt and Chris Hanna, make their case in this week’s point/counterpoint.
Burkhardt: Let’s start with the cold hard facts. Statistically, Ortiz had a significantly better farewell season than Jeter. For starters, he hit 34 more homeruns than Jeter, (38-4). Big Papi finished the regular season with 48 doubles- the most in the league, 79 runs on 169 hits, and 127 RBI’s. Oh yeah, and he’s not done yet. Big Papi will be continuing to rack up his stats as he moves into October baseball. The Captain on the other hand, had 47 runs, 149 hits and just 50 RBI’s. Not to mention his season ended at Fenway Park in September, as the Yankees finished with their worst record since 1992.
Hanna: Sure, Ortiz had the better statistical season, but the Captain earned far more accolades over the course of his final season, and reached several milestones as well. Jeter became the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to record 1,000 multi-hit games on July 10, just before the All-Star game. Then, after being selected to start at shortstop for the All-Star game, the Captain finished his All-Star game career with a .481 batting average in the event, good for fifth all-time. Not a month later, Jeter broke Omar Vizquel’s MLB record of 2,609 games started at shortstop, as well as the legendary Lou Gehrig’s franchise record with 534 doubles. Jeter also managed to score his 1,900th career run in the midst of his farewell tour, becoming just the 10th player in MLB history to earn such a feat. Perhaps most importantly, the Captain kept climbing the career hits chart in his last season, moving all the way up to sixth all-time finishing his unbelievable career with 3,465 hits.
Burkhardt: If you’re not big on statistics, we’ll talk about gifts. Both guys were gifted some absolute duds, but the presents in the good category were definitely more abundant for Ortiz. Thinking back to some of Jeter’s gifts, he was given a lot of donations to various charities, much like Ortiz. Both had to act thrilled when Texas teams gifted them cowboy attire, but Big Papi Day was far more rewarding than Derek Jeter Day. In his final regular season game at Fenway Park, David Ortiz was given “small” gifts such as custom boots, a golden bat, and oh yeah, a bridge and street renamed after him. Kind of hard to top a Big Papi Bridge, but the Red Sox weren’t done there. A million dollar check was given to Ortiz for his children’s charity. Sure Michael Jordan attended The Captain’s final game ceremony, but bringing back the majority of the 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series team was unreal. Oh yeah, Mary J Blige made the trip to Boston for Papi as well.
Hanna: Although Big Papi got his fair share of cool retirement gifts and the like, Jeter unquestionably had the better quality of gifts on his farewell tour. Among numerous donations to his charity, the Turn 2 Foundation, the Captain also received a signed kayak from the Tampa Bay Rays, a giant leather chair shaped like a glove from Rawlings, seats from the original Tigers Stadium from Detroit, and a Gibson Les Paul designed like his jersey from the Cleveland Indians. On top of that, the Chicago White Sox gave Jeter a bench made of baseball bats and bases, while the Cubs gave him the No. 2 from their famous Wrigley Field scoreboard. Jeter definitely got the better quality gifts and perhaps the more meaningful gifts as well. And let’s not forget the long list of Boston sports’ icons who came to greet Jeter at his last game at Fenway Park. Plus, the Captain’s last game at Yankees Stadium was attended by the other members of the Yankees’ World Series winning core, including Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, and Manager Joe Torre. Who can possibly forget what is perhaps one of the coolest moments in sports history? Top of the ninth, Yankees up by three. Closer David Robertson blows the save allowing three Orioles home to even the score. Of course, the Captain is in the hole in the bottom of the ninth for what seems like fate. With a runner on second and one out, Jeter hits a trademark walk-off single to win the game in his final appearance at Yankees Stadium. A moment like that really caps off the best farewell tour in the history of sports.
Burkhardt: Kayaks are cool but I’d much rather picture Big Papi carving the waves on his new custom surfboard courtesy of the San Diego Padres. And Mariano Rivera? He made sure he said farewell to Papi too in the Yankee Killers final series in the Bronx. In terms of last game performance, going 0-4 is arguably pretty memorable as well. Though a walk-off to end your career is pretty sweet, let’s remember that Ortiz hasn’t ended his career just yet. His final regular season game may have been lackluster, but Ortiz still has at least three games ahead of him to cap off a historical farewell tour in style.