How Influx Of Dominican Superstars Changed Course Of Red Sox History

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The Boston Red Sox have had a storied history with several superstars who have made their mark for the franchise.

A number of those impact players arrived in Boston from the Dominican Republic, with three players in particular combining to rewrite history for the Red Sox.

In a span of seven seasons, the Red Sox added three franchise cornerstones in Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, who eventually boosted Boston to its first World Series championship in 86 years.

Boston started the star-acquisition process after the 1997 season, trading Carl Pavano to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Martinez, the reigning National League Cy Young award winner. That trade made an immediate impact as the Dominican right-hander became appointment-TV whenever he took the mound for the Red Sox.

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Martinez went on to win two more Cy Young awards in Boston, started the 1999 All-Star Game in historic fashion at Fenway Park and stepped up in the postseason. Martinez was the game’s most dominant starter of his generation and gave the Red Sox a true ace at the top of the rotation for his seven seasons in Boston.

Three years after trading for Martinez, then-Boston general manager Dan Duquette signed his biggest free agent with the Red Sox in Ramirez to an eight-year deal for $160 million. The Dominican outfielder instantly added a unique force to the middle of the Red Sox lineup. Ramirez became a model of consistency, batting .312 with a .999 OPS and 274 home runs during his eight-year Red Sox career.

The final piece of the puzzle arrived in 2003 after Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins. Martinez quickly called Red Sox ownership once he learned the news, campaigning for Boston to sign the first baseman and designated hitter. Ortiz did indeed sign with Boston, setting the stage for a historic run. The Dominican slugger formed a powerful duo with Ramirez that intimidated opposing pitchers on his way to setting the franchise’s single season home run record and becoming arguably the greatest clutch hitter the sport has ever seen.

Beyond their ridiculously elite statistics, the Dominican trio brought a new energy into Boston that resonated with fans and enshrined their legacies with the Red Sox, especially after their crowning achievement.

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In 2004, the trio banded together more than ever to will Boston to a championship.

In the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, Ortiz put Boston on his back, delivering consecutive walk-off hits to keep the Red Sox alive. He tallied three home runs and 11 RBIs to earn series MVP honors. Boston won the American League pennant as the first team in baseball history to win a series after trailing three games to none.

The Red Sox moved on to take the first two games at home against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Martinez and Ramirez took it upon themselves to push Boston in Game Three. Ramirez had quite the first inning, putting Boston on the board with a solo home run before tallying an outfield assist when he threw out Larry Walker at home. From there, Martinez was lights out in his final start in a Red Sox uniform, tossing seven shutout innings where he allowed just three hits with six strikeouts.

The Red Sox eventually swept the World Series, with Ramirez as the MVP, to break the “Curse of the Bambino” and start a new era of winning in Boston. The 2004 title was the first of four championships in a 15-year stretch for the Red Sox, with Ramirez winning another title and Ortiz taking home two more rings.

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Boston’s baseball legacy is a historic one at that, though it would look very different if not for the transition back to glory sparked by three Dominican-born players.

The Red Sox will play two exhibition games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on March 9 and 10 against the Tampa Bay Rays as a part of the MLB World Tour.

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