David Ortiz hit 541 regular-season home runs during his career off of 360 different pitchers.
The first was on Sept. 14, 1997, against Texas righthander Julio Santana. Ortiz was a 21-year Minnesota Twins rookie.
The last came on Sept. 30, 2016, off Toronto lefthander Brett Cecil. By then, Ortiz was a 40-year-old Red Sox legend with three World Series rings.
Along the way Ortiz hit at least one home run off pitchers whose last names started with every letter of the alphabet besides U and X. From Fernando Abad to Barry Zito, he was an equal-opportunity masher.
Alas, Ortiz missed his chances against Koji Uehara (0 for 7) and Ugueth Urbina (1 for 4 with a single), and he never faced a pitcher whose last name began with an X.
His most home runs against one pitcher were his six off the late Roy Halladay, a fellow Hall of Famer. They faced each other 109 times from 2001-09.
Halladay was the pitcher Ortiz faced the most in his career and vice versa. Theirs was a frequent, but respectful, rivalry.
“He was a good friend of mine. But you know how it is when you jump on the field — it was you against me,” Ortiz said. “That was a guy, when he was on, it was mission impossible.
“But I knew that he was going to challenge me. I was the type of guy that, I used to make my living from pitchers’ mistakes, and he wasn’t out there making too many mistakes.”
Ask Ortiz to recount a particular homer and he often needs a few details to jog his memory. When you hit as many as Ortiz did, they start to blend together.
The 17 in the postseason? Those he remembers.
So do the pitchers who allowed those home runs, and often in vivid detail.
Michael Wacha was a 22-year-old St. Louis Cardinals rookie when he faced Ortiz in Game 2 of the 2013 World Series. He remembers thinking the entire country wanted the Red Sox to win a championship that season in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Going into Fenway Park there was a lot of emotion with the fans and the pregame ceremonies,” Wacha said. “But we had a job to do.”
Wacha did his well, allowing two runs over six innings and striking out six in a game St. Louis won, 4-2.
But Ortiz got him in the sixth inning. After starting him with two fastballs, Wacha threw Ortiz four consecutive changeups. The last was up and over the plate. Ortiz stayed on it and drove it the other way for a home run over the Green Monster.
“I remember everything about it, I threw too many changeups in a row,” said Wacha, who now pitches for the Red Sox. “He was a great hitter and he got me. I needed to get that last one down and I didn’t do it.”
Then Wacha smiled.
“But we won the game.”
It was the last postseason home run Ortiz would hit. Wacha joined a list of October victims that includes Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, David Price, John Lackey, David Wells, and Tom Gordon.
“I’ll tell you what, it was a lot better being his teammate than pitching against him,” said Lackey, who was a member of the 2013 Red Sox.
Outside of the postseason, Ortiz’s two most memorable home runs came on Sept. 12, 2015, at Tropicana Field. They were Nos. 499 and 500 of his career.
Matt Moore allowed both.
The lefthander was coming off Tommy John surgery the previous season and to that point had pitched only 31⅓ innings for the Rays.
“Where I was in my rehab, I felt like I was ready to go even though I was still a little stiff and my fastball was maybe 92-93 [miles per hour],” Moore said. “That wasn’t where it was generally, but it was time for me to get back into competition.”
Ortiz hit No. 499 in the first inning, a three-run shot to right field.
“A 1-and-2 heater, exact same spot as the one before it. He didn’t miss it,” Moore said. “It was a good swing.”
Ortiz popped up to center in the third inning. He came up again leading off the fifth and became the 27th player in history with 500 homers.
This time, Moore threw a curveball on a 2-2 count.
“I wanted to start it inside to a lefthanded hitter but it went to the middle,” Moore said. “He was probably geared for a fastball and he did a good job to get to it.”
Ortiz faced Moore in three more games before he retired and was 0 for 7.
“To this day if folks ask me who is the toughest hitter I faced, I say it’s David Ortiz,” said Moore, who is now a reliever with the Rangers and pitching well at age 33. “You could try to get him to chase and he wouldn’t. He’d take the walk.”
Moore would rather Ortiz had hit his 500th home run off somebody else. But he doesn’t rue his place in history.
“We had a lot of good battles,” he said. “He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason.”