David Ortiz will be the last Red Sox player to ever wear #34 as it will go up on the right field deck tonight. It’s a weird feeling seeing the players you grew up with, the players who won titles for your favorite team, the guys who became legends in front of your eyes, its a weird feeling seeing their number get retired.
The first one was obviously Pedro Martinez as he got his #45 retired by the Sox in 2015. Now Pedro had one of the greatest runs a pitcher has ever had in the history of the game, but he was only on the team from 98-04 and won one title with the Sox. Even then he was the c0-ace on the team behind Schilling. But, Ortiz was on the Sox for 14 fucking years and was THE guy on 3 World Series winning teams. Walkoff hits became so routine with him that people legit expected it when he stepped to the plate.
Of all the huge home runs David Ortiz hit, the one I’ll never forget was his grand slam against the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS.
The Sox were down 1-0 in the series, were getting smoked in Game 2 and staring down the barrel at Detroit’s daunting starting rotation. It seemed like a Game 2 loss probably would have killed any chance at winning the series. In steps Ortiz, who hits a motherfucking grand slam to tie the game. I was sitting in the bleachers that game and I’ve never heard Fenway louder than it was right then. And it of course made a goddamn celebrity out of bullpen cop Steve Horgan for his famous celebration.
Obviously the Sox went on to win the World Series where David Ortiz batted .688. The guy hit just under fucking .700 in the World Series. That is unbelievable. That is legendary.
2013 was an emotional season after the Boston Marathon bombing in April so that whole season and especially that playoff run was something the city needed. David Ortiz wasn’t just an iconic player, he was the face of the franchise, a folk hero and someone people genuinely liked. So it was particularly fitting when he took the mic on April 20th, 2013 and gave the entire city a rallying cry that will forever be synonymous with Ortiz.
David Ortiz will likely be the first DH to go into the Hall of Fame and rightfully so. He’s already got a bridge and a street named after him. One day the guy will have a statue outside of Fenway and we can tell our kids how we saw him become the most feared hitter in the game, how he became the biggest star in the toughest market in all of sports, how he became Big Papi.