Two of the biggest names, and bodies, in sports recently retired – Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin “Big Ticket” Garnett.
Ortiz announced last winter that the 2016 Major League Baseball season would be his last, and every team the Red Sox played this season presented him with gifts and a night in his honor.
His career began as a 16-year-old when Ortiz was signed by the Seattle Mariners out of his native Dominican Republic. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins four years later, and then signed by the Red Sox in 2003 after the Twins had released him.
One of the highlights in Big Papi’s career was leading the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series just seven months after the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. However, he also helped lead Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
The Red Sox put on quite a farewell party on Sunday, prior to the team’s last regular season game. It lasted 40 minutes, and included Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina. The Red Sox also announced they will retire his No. 34 next season. This is the first time the Red Sox will retire a player’s number before he is elected to the Hall of Fame.
There’s no doubt the Red Sox have had a long storied history with some of the all-time great players in the game wearing the red and navy blue uniform, but Ortiz will for a long time hold a place near the top of the list, with names like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Pedro Martinez.
Although the celebration has been held, the Red Sox hope Ortiz has a lot more baseball left in him, as the team battles in the playoffs.
At 7-1, Garnett never wanted to be thought of as a stationary big guy that just stood under the basket and blocked shots at will. So, instead, he insisted on being listed on the Timberwolves roster as being 6-11 – or as Garnett liked to say, he was 6-13.
Garnett, 40, announced his retirement last week after 21 seasons in the NBA, the longest career of anyone who has ever played in the league. Also, he bypassed college and was signed by Minnesota straight out of high school in 1995. Garnett played for three different teams during his career; Minnesota (1995-2007 and 2015-16), Boston (2007-13), and Brooklyn (2013-15).
If you play in the NBA long enough and you play at the level that Garnett played over all those years, you tend to make a lot of money, and he did. No one in NBA history made more than Garnett. In 1997, after only two seasons in the league, he turned down a $103.5 million contract offer from Minnesota, to later sign a six-year deal for $126 million, making him the highest paid athlete in any team sport. Over his career, he earned a record $334 million.
All that and he only won a single NBA title. Garnett was traded from the Timberwolves in 2007 and the next season he led the team to the NBA Championship. He was named to the NBA All-Star team 15 times and was voted NBA MVP in 2004.
Garnett and his wife, Brandi Padilla, have two daughters and live in Malibu, California. One interesting piece of trivia is that Garnett is a limited shareholder of the American-owned professional soccer team, A.S. Roma, which plays in the Italian Serie A futball league.