As you know, on April 20th, 2012, Fenway Park turned 100 years old. That weekend, the park opened its doors to the entire community for people to get a chance to enjoy America’s finest field. I went to the park that weekend and walked on the Fenway clay. It was a great day but the crowds and long lines pushed me out the exit of the park and down Boylston street. I eventually ended up at Copley Square, where I saw you!
You were getting into your parked car and I shouted your name. You waved and smiled then got in your car and sped away (and I do mean sped considering the speed limit is 20mph)! But for that brief moment I met you!
Well Papi, yesterday I said goodbye to you. I watched you take the field one last time from my blue wooden seat in the grandstands. I sat for three hours all bundled up in the brisk autumn night waiting to see the Red Sox beat the tribe and move a step closer to the American League Championship Series.
Well we all know that that wasn’t the case and this wasn’t the Red Sox’s year. But I would argue that this has been your year. We spent the 2016 season celebrating all the good you have done in baseball, for Boston, and for the world. I want to thank you, David, for all of the ways you have brought people together.
I think one of the things I admire most about you is your love of the game. No matter the count and no matter the score you cheer with the rest of us. Like last night, you got all of Fenway on their feet simply by raising your hands when you were walked to first. I’d say that’s a superpower. You moved 38,000 people to their feet with one swift movement of your arms. You celebrate with the fans because you yourself are a fan of the game.
For 20 years you dedicated your life to baseball and I want to thank you for spending 14 of those seasons in Boston. You could have given up on baseball after the Twins made the stupid decision to release you after the 2002 season, but instead (with some help from Pedro) you graced Boston with your presence. So I would also like to also thank the Twins for making that horrible mistake.
I want to thank you for all of the walk-offs and clutch hits. On May 14th this season you hit your 20th career walk off in the bottom of the 11th inning. As Xander Bogaerts touched home, the entire dugout ran to meet you at second base! You even took the base from the field as your prize. But what you don’t know, Papi, is that May 14th is my birthday. I will always remember the time that you hit a walk-off double as my birthday present. So thank you for that.
Thanks for representing the Red Sox at 10 All-Star games and making Boston proud each time. I always love watching you interact with players on other teams and in other divisions, you make friends everywhere you go and you always push the team to be their best.
During your last regular season game, the Red Sox honored you with a solid gold bat, just like your heart (pure gold). What a fitting gift for someone who has saved the lives of over 500 children through the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. You have kept kids’ hearts beating in New England and in the Dominican Republic. And that is a victory that is worth more than a million World Series wins. Thank you for caring so much about the world around you and using your money and fame to help those in need.
And lastly, thank you so much for last night’s game. After the Red Sox’s playoff push was terminated, the Cleveland Indians took to the field to celebrate. But that would not silence the 38,000 Fenway Faithful that just realized they witnessed David Ortiz’s last baseball game.
The fans quickly broke out into cheers and chants of “We want Papi!” And when the fans realized you would not come out until the tribe was in their clubhouse, we continued in chanting, “Off the field! Off the field!” Once the Indians were gone, you still didn’t come out. I waited on my feet, screaming at the top of my lungs for what felt like an eternity until the “We’re not leaving!” chant broke out. Moments later, the chants turned into cheers as we saw a legend emerge from the dugout.
You walked to the mound and with tears in your eyes, you saluted the people of Boston. But what you may not realize, Papi, is that when you cry, we all cry. Thank you for last night because in that moment I realized I was experiencing history. One day, I will bring my kids to Fenway Park and they will see your “34” retired on the Right Field roof deck and they’ll ask about you. And I will tell them about everything you did for me, the city of Boston, and the world.
So thank you David. Thank you for the memories and thank you for being a great role model for athletes and people everywhere. I’ll come visit you in Cooperstown.
The Sox Sweetheart