Well, it’s finally come to an end, last three games of the season have been nothing but ceremony’s for Big Papi. Friday night saw Ortiz recieve another beautiful oil painting of him hitting a home-run. Saturday night saw current and former members of the other Boston area sports franchises paying their respects to the great DH. And then lastly the big good-bye last night. All to cap off one of the greatest final seasons in MLB history. David Ortiz preached “retired not expired” and he practiced just that, by breaking or tying nearly every record for a farewell tour.
38 Home Runs
Just amazing, all except his batting average are greatest ever by a player 40+ years old. Home-Runs and RBI are most ever in a final season regardless of age, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson’s RBI record was 96 years old, and he was banned mid-career, so no-one ever really expected that record to be obtainable
Ortiz stepped onto the Fenway Park field for the final time in the regular season last night and it was just as emotional as one would expect. The pre-game ceremony had Ortiz being welcomed by 24 former teammates who were holding the trophies from the 2004, 2007, and 2013 championship seasons. Even the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, threw out the first pitch and paid respects to one of his countries greatest exports.
The city of Boston thanked Ortiz for all he has done for the community and its people when Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presented him with a sign for the “David Ortiz Bridge,” a renamed span of Brookline Avenue that crosses over the Massachusetts Turnpike, and a street sign for “David Ortiz Drive,” a newly named section of road near Fenway Park.
The biggest gift of the night though, had to be the announcement of the number 34 being retired by the Red Sox, early next season. An act that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given what Big Papi has done, what does make it a surprise though is that this will make David Ortiz the first Red Sox player in history to have his number retired before being inducted into the MLB hall of fame.
David Ortiz went on to address everyone in attendance after recieving his gifts. He started with “I want to thank my mom,” Ortiz’s mother passed away back in 2002. he paused for nearly 30 seconds, the crowd cheered loudly in support. He looked down at the ground, looked up, wiped a hand across his eyes, and said, “Whoooo! OK, I’m back.” then said, “I want to thank you, mom. Wherever you are, I love you so much and I miss you.” Ortiz also went on to thank his father for a lifetime of support, and President Medina for taking the time to come to the event.
Ortiz also told a little story, as he thanked Pedro Martinez, he informed the crowd of a little conversation that happen back in early 2003. Pedro had run into Ortiz out one night, just moments after being released from the Twins. Ortiz was down, he had just had his daughter a few weeks ago and was worried what the future might bring, if only he knew. Pedro however saw this as an oppurtunity, he told Ortiz that’s great news, cause now you can come play with me in Boston. Martinez went on to make a few phone calls, Ortiz was signed, and the rest is history.
Lastly David thanked the fans, he dropped to one knee, tipping his cap, and poured his heart out. Thanking Boston for all the support, and always believening in him to get the job done. He even joked, “I would drop to both knees but it was going to be hard to get up then” the crowd erupted into cheers and applause.
His final game was a loss, he was even given a chance to win it one last time, but a slow dribbler back to the mound said none of that. For the final time in the regular season David Ortiz walked back to the dugout, the entire stadium standing, applauding, and chanting “Papi”. He was visibly emotional, as his teammates high fived and hugged him. The journey has come to an end, and now, the only thing to do, is leave out on top.
Red Sox start their best of 5 series against the Indians at Cleveland on Thursday. Beginning the last championship run, for the one, the only, “Big Papi” David Ortiz.