World Series MVP David Ortiz’s Big, Bold, On-The-Fly Leadership Lessons

The Red Sox slugger known as Big Papi hit nearly .700 during the just-concluded World Series, leading his club to victory. But his innovative style on the field and off may have been the difference.

World Series MVP David Ortiz’s Big, Bold, On-The-Fly Leadership Lessons
[Image: Flickr user Keith Allison]

David Ortiz (who, for this article, will be referred to by his nickname, “Big Papi”) is a force of nature.


If you watched the 2013 World Series, there’s no other way to put it: he’s unstoppable. Papi’s managed the insane batting average of .688, 11 hits, and 6 RBIs. He’s the loudest, the best, and–yes–the biggest man on the field.

So, with the 2013 World Series championship in his formidable hands, let’s reflect on one of the game’s greats and explore the takeaways from his unique leadership style. (With apologies to dugout phones everywhere–more on that below.)

1. Borrow from other industries

It’s the sixth inning of Game Four of the World Series and the score is tied at one apiece. The Red Sox trail the Cardinals two games to one: it’s a must-win situation.

What does Big Papi decide to do? Hold a huddle–something hardly ever seen in MLB dugouts.

“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” left fielder Jonny Gomes told ESPN. “That message was pretty powerful.”

And it worked. The Sox rallied for three runs in the sixth inning, ultimately winning the game 4-2. Oh, and Big Papi went 3-3, bringing his series average to above .700.


2. Develop skills outside your wheelhouse

While we’re on the subject of Game 4, let’s not forget that this happened:

David Ortiz is known for one thing: hitting the ball. Hard.

At 6 feet 4 inches and 250 pounds, he’s not known for his athleticism anywhere but at the plate: he’s really slow and heavy.

And yet, as the video above shows, he doesn’t care. Just moments before his motivational–and arguably game-winning–speech, Papi managed to score from a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Run, Papi, run.

3. Act decisively

Don’t be afraid to show your emotion.


4. Love Your Enemies–And Don’t Be Afraid To Have Fun

Can you not love this guy?

5. Breaking The F@&%ing Rules Is Okay Sometimes

Just five days after the Boston Marathon bombing, which took the lives of three people and sent Boston into a virtual lockdown, Papi grabbed a mic at Fenway Park to have a few words with his city.

His message, with the help of some NSFW language, was clear:

And it’s not the first time, either. Remember what we said about not being afraid of your emotions?

‘Listen,’ designated hitter David Ortiz began, ‘we’re not just a good team. We’re a great team. And don’t you f—— forget that. And let’s go play one at a time and go prove that. Because let me tell you something …’

Ortiz pulled on the sides of his gray road jersey. ‘There’s a reason why you wear this Red Sox uniform …’

About the author

Former Editorial Assistant Miles Kohrman helped run Fast Company's homepage and completed miscellaneous tasks around the newsroom. He is a 2013 graduate of The New School.