ORTIZ IS BEING COY: He has already lined up a career in retirement. He'll be throwing himself into Big Papi Productions, a company that has produced videos for Verizon (featuring comedy sketches starring Ortiz available on The Big Papi Network) and ESPN (with a series chronicling his final season) and hopes to do more as its namesake's schedule frees up. (He plans to join a network as a baseball broadcaster, too.) He expects to bring to mass audiences his goofiness and his love of food and animals, says Alex Radetsky, Ortiz's long-time marketing agent, who will serve as the slugger turned producer's right-hand man.
For as long as star athletes have faded from red giants into white dwarfs, the media galaxy has been there to catch them. There have been broadcasters and analysts and movie stars and pitchmen, and there have been the rare individuals able to do it all: Merlin Olsen, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Strahan. But many in this generation of aging—and extremely wealthy—All-Stars are positioning themselves behind the camera too. Kobe Bryant is now a venture capitalist and created Kobe Studios, a multimedia content company. Earlier this year, four-time Pro Bowler Trevor Pryce sold an animated kids' series to Netflix. In 2008, LeBron James launched SpringHill Productions, which now produces television shows that air on Starz, Disney and CNBC. And after his Ortiz-like retirement tour in 2014, Derek Jeter started The Players' Tribune, a site that allows athletes to bypass the mainstream media and speak directly to fans. Ortiz was an early investor in the Tribune; last fall he announced his impending retirement there with a post and a video.
Big Papi will hit the ground running. When Boston was in L.A. to play the Dodgers in August, Ortiz and Radetsky took meetings at the powerhouse talent agency William Morris Endeavor. After a career of delivering storybook moments on the field, Ortiz is eager to craft new ones. Bryant knows the feeling. "My passion now is creating the story," he told The Orange County Register earlier this year. "Creating the story—and finding the best possible way—[in] the medium which that story can live."