David Ortiz hits the Red Sox team record breaking
home runs #51 and #52

DAVID ORTIZ

ON THIS DATE (September 21, 2006) ... David Ortiz, in his first at-bat, did some mythmaking of his own, hitting his 51st home run of the season, breaking the club record set in 1938 by Jimmie Foxx, a Hall of Famer. Boston's designated hitter added his own coda to this historic night by hitting another home run, No. 52, in his last at-bat during a 6-0 Boston victory over the Minnesota Twins before a crowd of 36,434.

With nine games to play, Ortiz is a distant nine home runs from the AL record of 61 set in 1961 by Roger Maris, a record that has been eclipsed in the steroid era in the National League by Sammy Sosa (three times), Mark McGwire (twice), and Barry Bonds, who in 2001 hit 73, the current record.

Ortiz swung his 34 1/2-inch, 33-ounce bat the same bat carved of white ash and laminated black that he'd used the night before to hit No. 50 at the first pitch he saw from Twins lefthander Johan Santana, with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the first inning. The pitch from Santana, widely considered the best pitcher in the American League and a "brother" by Ortiz, was a belt-high fastball that did not veer inside enough to interrupt the full violent twist of Ortiz's hips and the upward sweep of his bat.

At the sound of bat meeting ball, and the sight of the ball soaring high into the cool autumn-like night, Ortiz's teammates rushed to the railing of the dugout, and the crowd rose as one, exploding when the ball cleared the Sox bullpen. With that swing, Big Papi, trumping Double X, whose record had stood the test of other Sox sluggers, from Ted Williams to Yaz, Jim Rice to Mo Vaughn, for 68 years.

The sounds of "The Natural" played over the ballpark PA system as Ortiz circled the bases, and "51" flashed repeatedly on the video scoreboard. Santana, standing on the grass near the mound, tipped his cap to Ortiz, then removed it in an apparent gesture of respect. Six times previously, Santana had faced Ortiz, and six times he'd gotten him out, striking him out three times. The seventh time, history.

As Ortiz crossed the plate, he performed the ritual that follows each of his home runs, gently kissing the tips of his fingers and pointing to the sky, in tribute to his mother, Angela Rosa Arias, who died in a car accident four years ago and whose visage is etched on Ortiz's giant biceps. He exchanged fist bumps with the Sox' on-deck hitter, Mike Lowell, then returned to the dugout, where one by one, led by manager Terry Francona, teammates engulfed him with hugs and backslaps.

The deference the Sox accorded Ortiz for his record-breaker was replaced by some traditional baseball mischief when he hit No. 52, a towering drive into the left-center-field seats off 27-year-old right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier with one out in the seventh. Ortiz returned to a dugout that, at Curt Schilling's prompting, collectively ignored him for several moments before abandoning the silent treatment and pounding him anew.

 

F   E   N   W   A   Y     P   A   R   K

 

 

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9

10

 

R

H

E

 
 

MINNESOTA TWINS

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BOSTON RED SOX

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W-Josh Beckett (16-10)
L-Johann Santana (18-6)
Attendance 36,434

 2B-Mauer (Minn)

 HR-Ortiz (2)(Bost), Lowell (Bost)