10 Career-Defining David Ortiz Baseball Cards – Instant PC

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A late-bloomer who didn’t truly break out until he joined the Boston Red Sox for his age-27 season in 2003, David Ortiz finished his storied career with 541 home runs and 1,768 RBI. He was a 10-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion and he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2022.

All told, there are more than 14,000 David Ortiz cards, according to the Beckett database. So where does one begin putting together a David Ortiz PC?

These 10 cards serve as an excellent representation of his playing career and footprint on the hobby, making them a great place to start.

1997 Best #74 David Ortiz

Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners on Nov. 28, 1992, and four years later he was traded to the Minnesota Twins as a player to be named in a deal that sent veteran Dave Hollins the other way. He then had a breakout season in the minors in 1997, hitting .317/.372/.568 with 38 doubles, 31 home runs and 124 RBI in 140 games across three minor league levels.

He has a pair of 1996 minor league cards that were found in team sets,  but his first widely available card was in the 1997 Best minor league set. Fellow Hall of Famer Roy Halladay is also part of the 100-card checklist.

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1997 Ultra #518 David Ortiz (Arias) RC

Following his stellar 1997 minor league season, Ortiz made his MLB debut on Sept. 2, 1997, and he hit .327/.353/.449 for a 108 OPS+ with one home run and six RBI in 51 plate appearances down the stretch. He was just 21 years old when he first reached the majors.

Due to his late debut and fairly under-the-radar profile prior to his 1997 breakout, Ortiz only has two Rookie Cards, which were found in the 1997 Fleer and 1997 Ultra sets. He is referred to as “David Arias” on those two highly sought-after cards.

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1998 Topps #257 David Ortiz/Richie Sexson/Daryle Ward

Ortiz found his way into a semi-regular role with the Twins in 1998, hitting .277/.371/.446 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and 46 RBI in 86 games. He split time at first base with veterans Ron Coomer and Orlando Merced, while 41-year-old Paul Molitor was the team’s primary designated hitter.

His first Topps card is part of the 1998 set, and it is shared with Richie Sexson and Daryle Ward who also went on to have productive MLB careers. The trio hit a combined 937 home runs across 43 seasons.

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2002 Fleer Tradition #49 David Ortiz SP

In what would be his final season with the Twins in 2002, Ortiz hit .272/.339/.500 for a 120 OPS+ with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 75 RBI in 125 games. Despite that strong production, he was non-tendered by the team on Dec. 16, 2002,  with the small market Twins opting to cut him loose rather than paying him a projected $2 million in arbitration.

Ortiz only has 38 different cards in 2002 products, including parallels, and one of the most valuable of the bunch is a short-printed card in the 2002 Fleer Tradition set. There were 100 short-printed cards in the 500-card checklist, and they were found in 1:2 packs.

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2003 Topps Chrome Traded Refractors #T52 David Ortiz

A little over a month after he was released by the Twins, Ortiz signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Red Sox that would reshape baseball history. In his first season in Boston, he hit .288/.369/.592 with 39 doubles, 31 home runs and 101 RBI to finish fifth in AL MVP balloting.

His first Topps cards in a Red Sox uniform is in the 2003 Topps Traded set. It also has a Gold (/2003) parallel and similar Chrome and Chrome Refractor versions.

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2004 Hot Prospects Draft Tandems #9 Manny Ramirez/David Ortiz

Ortiz proved his breakout 2003 season as the real deal the following year when he hit .301/.380/.603 with 41 home runs and 139 RBI. He helped lead the Red Sox to a long-awaited World Series title alongside fellow slugger Manny Ramirez. That middle-of-the-order tandem played together for six memorable seasons.

They have a number of cards together, including the  Tandems insert in the 2004 Hot Prospects Draft set. The set has a 15-card checklist as was found in 1:15 packs.

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2006 Fleer Lumber Company #LC10 David Ortiz

Ortiz led the AL in home runs (54), RBI (137), walks (119) and total bases (355) during the 2006 season when he finished third in AL MVP voting behind Justin Morneau and Derek Jeter. There is a strong case to be made that he deserved the hardware.

The Lumber Company inserts were a staple in Fleer sets from 1992-98, resurfaced from 2001-03, and then popped up one final time in the 2006 set. Ortiz was part of that final 25-card checklist, and it’s a great-looking, low-cost insert.

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2007 Ultra Hitting Machines Materials #DO David Ortiz

Three years after snapping an 86-year World Series drought, the Red Sox won another World Series title, and Ortiz was at the center of the club’s offensive attack once again. He hit .370/.508/.696 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 14 games during the team’s postseason run.

The Ultra Hitting Machines inserts first appeared in the Ultra set from 1994-97, then showed up again in 2002, 2004 and for the final time in 2007. The 2007 iteration came in a base and memorabilia swatch version for each card.

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2013 Triple Play All-Stars #9 David Ortiz

Still going strong in his age-37 season, Ortiz won his third World Series title in 2013. He hit .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI during the regular season. The DH also won World Series MVP honors when he went 11-for-16 with two doubles, two home runs and six RBI in six games.

The Triple Play brand was first introduced by Donruss as a low-cost option geared toward kids, with products released in 1992, 1993 and 1994. It was resurrected in 2012 and 2013 by Panini. While it was not MLB licensed, the All-Stars inserts are a cool-looking, low-cost card.

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2017 Topps #350 David Ortiz SP/tipping helmet

After 20 seasons, Ortiz went out on top following a 2016 season where he hit .315/.401/.620 with 48 doubles, 38 home runs and 127 RBI. He finished sixth in AL MVP voting as a 40-year-old and put the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame resume.

He has a base card in the 2017 Topps flagship set and there are 10 different short-printed parallel versions of the card. I’ve opted for the curtain call variation to round out this collection.

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Joel Reuter

Joel is a National MLB Columnist at Bleacher Report who has spent the last decade as a full-time MLB writer. A lifelong Cubs fan and Chicago resident, nostalgia drives his card-collecting focus. He is currently working on assembling the entire base catalogs of four of his all-time favorites—Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

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