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ALCS MVP Ortiz keeps the faith
10/21/2004 6:02 AM ET
NEW YORK -- David Ortiz never lost faith in himself or his Boston Red Sox teammates.

And his Herculean effort in the American League Championship Series led to a stunning comeback, a World Series berth, and a series Most Valuable Player award to put on his mantle back in the Dominican Republic.

Ortiz, whom teammates call "Big Papi," hit .387 (12-for-31) with three homers, an LCS-record 11 RBIs, six runs and 23 total bases, and did a lot more than even his gaudy numbers suggest.

In Game 4, with the Red Sox trailing the series three games to none, he won the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.

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In Game 5, with the Sox still facing elimination, he sparked a game-tying rally in the eighth inning with a monstrous opposite-field homer over the Green Monster, then won it in the 14th with a bleeder of an RBI single to center.

And in Game 7, he put the Red Sox on the board with a two-run homer in the first inning, setting the tone for Boston's 10-3 rout that clinched their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1986.

"David Ortiz put us on his back and delivered us a couple of wins and everyone else followed suit," Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "He carried us this series and has been a clutch player for us all year. A fantastic player and a fantastic person."

Ortiz, in his second year as a member of the Red Sox, is a hulking masher who has quietly put up huge numbers.

In 2003, he hit .288 with 31 homers and 101 RBIs as the Red Sox won the Wild Card and lost to the Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the ALCS.

This year, he stepped it up, hitting .301 with 41 homers and 139 RBIs, then making sure his Sox didn't lose in similar circumstances.

After learning that he was the unanimous choice for the MVP award, Ortiz looked back on what his team has gone through in the last two years.

   David Ortiz  /   DH
Born: 11/18/75
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

"Well, you know how long this team and the fans here have been waiting for this ballclub to go to the World Series," Ortiz said. "Not just to go to the World Series, but to win the World Series."

"Last year, I remember we had a bad memory. So a lot of my teammates were just destroyed because we played a pretty good game and we lost and it was a big-time opportunity to step to the World Series.

"We saw a lot of fans crying and feeling hurt and I think myself and all of my teammates, we were worried about it and kept that for ourselves. And that's one of the big reasons for us to come to the field and represent the way we did the last four games."

The players who represented the Yankees understood Ortiz's importance to Boston's cause, too.

"He's humongous," Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield said. "That guy just showed what he's all about. He did everything he could possibly do in this series. When his team needed him the most, he came through."

And so did the Sox, accomplishing the unprecedented, the unheard of. But Ortiz said he wasn't surprised that they came all the way back to advance.

"I tell you, one day I was driving from my house to the stadium on a workout day and I saw a big sign on the street that said, 'Keep the faith,'" Ortiz said. "And I saw it was a photo of Manny (Ramirez), it had the big smile.

"I just parked in front of the photo and I just sat down for a minute and just thought about it, you know, we've been through the whole year. Then I went to the field and I just expressed myself to my teammates about what the Boston nation has been waiting for us and what they expect from us.

"So it doesn't matter if we are down 3-0. We just have got to keep the faith. ... Because the game is not over till the last out."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.