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David Ortiz recounts ‘Big Papi’ origins to Stephen Colbert (vid)

David Ortiz has been known as “Big Papi” going all the way back to 2003 when he joined the Boston Red Sox following his release by the Minnesota Twins. But how did Ortiz come by the nickname that is as synonymous with a particular player as any beloved moniker in Major League Baseball history?

The retired Red Sox slugger currently is making the media rounds to promote his new book, “Papi: My Story.” On Wednesday night Ortiz recounted the origins of his iconic nickname during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Ortiz explained it is a custom in his native Dominican Republic to refer to people as “Papi.” Since he was calling everyone else “Papi,” people started referring to him as it as well. NESN analyst Jerry Remy began using the moniker during broadcasts and a nickname was born.

“I meet so many people every day, it’s hard for me to keep up with their names,” Ortiz told Colbert. “So I just ‘Papi’ people.”
“So ‘Big Papi’ was just because you couldn’t remember anybody’s name?” Colbert asked.

“Nobody’s name,” Ortiz said. “Not even my teammates.”

This is how Ortiz explained the creation of the Big Papi nickname back in 2015.

“I couldn’t remember everybody’s name. So I called everybody ‘Papi’ because that’s what people do in the Dominican. It’s just a friendly thing, a sign of respect,” Ortiz said, via The Boston Globe. “After a while, they started calling me ‘Papi’ in return and then it became ‘Big Papi.’ It took off.”

Ortiz also took time during his appearance on Colert’s late-night show to praise longtime on-field foil Derek Jeter, calling the New York Yankees icon “so special” and indicating he has photos of Jeter all over his house.