Sunday was a big day for Big Papi.
David Ortiz, the legendary Boston Red Sox slugger, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He is the first-ever designated hitter (DH) to be elected to the hall of fame in his first year of eligibility. This is a well-deserved honor for a man who electrified New England for years with his bat and his personality.
Before Ortiz made history this weekend, he had already been making indelible memories for a once-tortured Red Sox fan base. His repeated heroics in the 2004 playoffs helped deliver the team’s first World Series in 86 years. He helped the city of Boston heal after the 2013 marathon bombing (“This is our [bleeping] city” still gives us goosebumps). And his numbers, with the 17th most home runs all time, are undoubtedly hall of fame caliber.
“He brought us the World Series that I’d never thought I’d see in my lifetime,” Raymond Inzero of Connecticut told Spectrum News in Cooperstown over the weekend. “So I’m so happy for him.”
So are we.
And, in true Big Papi style, so is he. His induction speech on Sunday was joyful and powerful — just as he played the game.
Ortiz spoke in both English and Spanish, his first language, as he heaped praise and thanks on the many people who helped him build a hall of fame career. He thanked his family and friends, his many coaches and teammates, his two countries (he is from the Dominican Republic and became a U.S. citizen in 2008), the Red Sox organization, among others.
“I always try to live my life in a way that supports others, that [makes] a positive influence in the world. And if my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. You can change their future,” Ortiz concluded on Sunday. “Just like so many people who believe in me. To everyone that [believed] in me from my family, to coaches to teammates, to fans, know I could not have done this without you. My Hall of Fame plaque represents each one of you. And I’m going to thank you guys for the rest of my life. Thank you very much and God bless you all.”
He also thanked the city of Boston and Red Sox fans across New England earlier in his speech.
“It’s been almost 20 years since my first day in Boston. We have some incredible memories. When I think about Boston, I definitely think about 2004, 2007, and of course 2013, after the city was shaken by the marathon bombing, I had never seen a community bounce back and reunite like Boston,” Ortiz said. “When I think about Boston, I also think about the last game I played, standing on that field at Fenway Park. It felt like the whole [region] of New England and each one and every one of you was surrounding me and was showing me all your love. I will always be Boston and I will always be there for you, Boston. I love you, Boston.”
In a time of growing individualism and self-congratulation, his words were a poignant and timely reminder of the importance of supporting one another and appreciating that support.
Bangor loves you too, Papi. Thanks for the memories and congratulations on this well-deserved honor.