By now, referring to David Ortiz as “Big Papi” is second nature.
It’s hard to remember a time when Ortiz didn’t have the nickname, especially since it fits the Boston Red Sox slugger so perfectly given his stature, his on-field success and his larger-than-life personality. But believe it or not, there was a time when Ortiz wasn’t a Red Sox legend and the “Big Papi” moniker wasn’t yet a thing. That was before Boston snapped an 86-year World Series drought.
So, how exactly did Ortiz receive the “Big Papi” nickname? Well, as the 10-time All-Star recently discussed in NESN’s special presentation, “The David Ortiz Era,” it actually was NESN’s Jerry Remy who slapped on the label following Ortiz’s early success with the Red Sox upon joining them in 2003.
“I’m bad at remember people’s names. I get to meet a lot of guys, and I kind of ‘Papi’ them. ‘Hey Papi. Hey Papi,’ ” Ortiz recalled. “Remy — RemDawg — came out during the game and dropped the ‘Big Papi’ on me and that was it.”
In other words, Ortiz’s nickname is a product of his own doing, given his knack for calling people “Papi.” Remy took it to another level and made it mainstream by adding “Big” to the beginning and using it during Red Sox broadcasts.
But let’s also not forget Ortiz’s former teammate, Kevin Millar, who claims to have come up with the nickname. Because even if he wasn’t responsible, the former Red Sox first baseman still helped push the “Big Papi” movement, to the point where it became a household nickname rather quickly.
“Millar likes to use the word ‘Papi’ a lot, because he wants to feel Latino sometimes, he wants to have that flavor and that swag, and this and that,” Ortiz said, laughing. “So he drops the Papi on you, he drops the Papi on me, he drops to Papi on everybody. So he has a lot to do with it, too.”
Hey, if the shoe fits, wear it.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images