(BaseballStL) — When I was 10 years old, I played on the Giants in the Elgin National Little League. There was a player on the Angels named Joe (last name redacted) who everyone feared.
Puberty had come early for Joe, and in addition to having two years on me, he was considerably bigger and stronger than any player I had ever competed against.
To go with Joe’s frighteningly imposing figure, his face sported the beginnings of a beard, something I had previously thought was reserved for the coaches. For a time, the disparity between Joe’s ability and everyone else’s was so stark I wondered if he would be drafted at summer’s end.
Eventually, growth spurts found the rest of the league. Today Joe stands no taller than he did then, but for a time he was the most terrifying player in town.
More than decade and a half later, David Ortiz has brought back memories of my little league days. Big Papi is playing the World Series at a level usually seen in video games. The Boston slugger is seemingly unconquerable.
In 20 plate appearances, he has recorded only five outs. He has four walks, 11 hits, six RBIs and five runs scored. His average is .733, and his OPS is 1.867.
Impossibly, it should be higher. In Game 1 Ortiz took a ball over the right field wall, only to see it brought back by Carlos Beltran. That shot would have been a grand slam.
Like Joe in little league, it seems like there’s Ortiz, and then there’s everyone else. He’s toppling Boston’s franchise records like dominoes, and approaching World Series records previously thought untouchable.
His .733 average and .733 on base percentage are sniffing the heights reached by Cincinnati’s Billy Hatcher in 1990. Hatcher’s .750 and .800 marks are a few successful at-bats away from being bested by the 37-year-old Ortiz.
In fact for a moment Monday night, his average sat at .765. He has yet to record a World Series strikeout, and hasn’t gone down on strikes since Game 2 of the ALCS.
With the series moving back to Boston, the big veteran will be back in his familiar DH role Wednesday night. No matter the outcome, observers have seen a performance for the ages from Big Papi.
His incomprehensible run of at-bats has not only terrorized the Cardinal pitchers, it’s brought me flashbacks of a time when it felt like a man played among boys. At least this time he’s not the only one with a beard.