Former Salt Lake Buzz slugger gets a call from the hall

Jan 25, 2022, 7:26 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 3:38 pm
Teammates high five Buzz hitter David Ortiz after his home run during game against Vancouver on  Ju...
Teammates high five Buzz hitter David Ortiz after his home run during game against Vancouver on June 6, 1999 (Gary McKellar / Deseret News)
(Gary McKellar / Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Back in the day —May 13, 1999, to be exact — the Minnesota Twins came to town and defeated the Salt Lake Buzz 10-9 in an exhibition game.

At that time, nearly six weeks into the season, the major league team had yet to promote any players from the Triple-A ranks.

Moody Minnesota manager Tom Kelly explained why.

David Ortiz with the Salt Lake Buzz (File -- Gary McKellar / Deseret News)

“There hasn’t been any movement because there’s nobody at Triple-A doing any good, or that good where we’d think about moving somebody,” Kelly said. “Once somebody wants to step up over here, play a little bit and show that they can play consistent ball with some pizzazz, then maybe we’ll move somebody.”

First baseman/designated hitter David Ortiz made quite a case that season. He earned Pacific Coast League all-star recognition while leading the league with 110 runs batted in. The Salt Lake slugger finished with a .590 hitting percentage, collecting 35 doubles and 30 home runs over 130 games with the Buzz. He led the PCL in runs batted in with 110, hit 30 home runs and 35 doubles and had a hitting percentage of .590. His play earned him another trip to Minnesota, where he hopes to capitalize on his opportunity.

“I thought I was going to get called up earlier,” Ortiz said at the time. “But I’m just going to go there and do my best … I’m so glad to play for the fans in Salt Lake City. They make me feel like (I can) go up there (Minnesota) and play hard.”

Although Ortiz saw limited action with the Twins that year (10 at-bats in 20 games), he stepped up in 2000 and became more of a regular fixture in the big leagues.

Ortiz wound up playing 20 seasons in the majors, knocking in 1,768 runs with 541 homers over stints with the Twins and Boston Red Sox. He was a 10-time all-star.

On Tuesday, “Big Papi” as he is known, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the lone candidate to receive the required 75% approval by the baseball writers —appearing on 77.9% of the ballots.

Ortiz played in 151 games for Salt Lake from 1997-99. He hit 36 homers and drove in 126 runs for the Buzz.

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Former Salt Lake Buzz slugger gets a call from the hall