David Ortiz was in a hurry after a spring training workout in 2002 to meet a friend. Corey Koskie, however, was about to execute one of the greatest Minnesota Twins clubhouse pranks.
"It was because he did something to me or hid something I had," Koskie said Tuesday. "I don't know. Maybe I just went ahead and did it."
Whatever Koskie's motivation was, it led him to the clubhouse pantry at Hammond Stadium, looking for peanut butter. Moments later, Ortiz emerged from the shower and quickly dressed to make his lunch appointment. He reached into a pocket of his jeans for his car keys and pulled out a wad of peanut butter.
"Koskie!" Ortiz yelled, with a few other colorful words, as he began checking the rest of his clothes and finding more gooey stuff.
Righthander Rick Reed, who had filed an off-season trade demand, was meeting with reporters on the other side of the clubhouse to announce he was staying with the club. The commotion, led by the guffawing Torii Hunter, drew everyone's attention.
Calmly, Reed went into the pantry, grabbed two slices of bread and tossed them toward Ortiz.
Before he was "Big Papi," he was "Big O." That's what some teammates and media called Ortiz during much of his six years with the Twins. Always laughing. Always talking. Always a target. Even Ron Gardenhire tried to get Ortiz once at a charity event by putting an exploding golf ball on a tee for him. Ortiz ruined the surprise by only catching a part of the ball with his swing, making the ball fall off to the side.
Who knew then that they were pranking a future Hall of Famer? Who knew that after hitting 58 home runs with the Twins — including one in 2001 against Kansas City after breaking his wrist earlier in the game — he would smash 483 home runs with Boston? Who knew then he would become a legend?
Ortiz was named on 307 of 394 ballots — 77.9% — enough to put him into the Hall on Tuesday on his first try. He will be inducted on July 22 as part of a class that includes ex-Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, who were voted in by the Golden Days Era committee in December.
Ortiz was released by the Twins in December 2002. The move freed up space for them to claim Jose Morban in the Rule 5 draft, and the move also set Ortiz free.
"I'm happy for him," said Terry Ryan, who was the general manager when the Twins parted ways with Ortiz. "He's had a great career. He's been an icon in Boston. He's good for the industry — great for the industry, I should say.
"Unfortunately, when he was with Minnesota, we didn't get the rewards that they got in Boston. Obviously, I made a mistake. He went on to great heights and put up the numbers and now he's a Hall of Famer."
No other team claimed Ortiz as he passed through release waivers. He then signed with Boston and was ordered to clobber baseballs all over Fenway Park. He became Big Papi, helped break The Curse and slugged his way into Cooperstown.
Ortiz joins designated hitters Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines in the Hall, as voters are warming to having one-way players inducted.
Ortiz also had to overcome skepticism created in 2003 when he reportedly failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs. There was no problem here with checking the box next to Ortiz's name. He did not fail a drug test after 2004, when the league got serious about stopping PED use.
Twins fans have had to watch Ortiz flourish from afar — except when he flourished right before their eyes, over and over again. He batted .332 with 21 homers and 58 RBI in 73 games against his first major league team.
We are all left to wonder what would have happened if the gregarious, thick-skinned and determined Ortiz would have stayed with the Twins and remained Big O.