David Ortiz: Boston’s Hero
By: Connor Lenahan
Last night, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz got his 2,000th career hit and I was fortunate enough to be witness to it in person. Sort of. I decided last night while the Red Sox where committing what could be considered an act of war against the Detroit Tigers (Eight home runs in addition to a final score reading 20-4) to go over by Fenway Park to unwind after plowing out some reading for my class the next morning.
Little would I realize it but Ortiz rocketed a double into center field for his 2,000th hit right around when I was passing next to a gate into the park on Lansdowne Street. I heard the stadium erupt into a roar for Big Papi, seemingly the fan favorite player for the last decade or so.
When he cracked the bat on 2,000 I felt proud. Which is odd because I’m a fan of the New York Yankees and am supposed to hate any and all Red Sox, especially Ortiz.
For those of you that don’t know or possibly forgot (I never did), Ortiz was the catalyst for a moment that will forever live in baseball history. In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Yankees led the series three games to none, leaving the Red Sox in the uncomfortable position of having to win the next four games in a row if they were to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1986. The Yankees were 27 outs away from going to the World Series for the second consecutive year, and their seventh appearance in the previous nine years.
Needless to say, it looked like the Yankees could break out the brooms and get ready for a date with the St. Louis Cardinals in the Series.
Then Game 4 happened. The game was knotted up a 4-4 after the ninth inning, meaning the game would continue even deeper into the autumn night. The game was tied because Dave Roberts stole second successfully by a millimeter on the battery of Mariano Rivera (the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history) and Jorge Posada (longtime Yankee catcher, giant ears). A Bill Mueller single drove in Roberts to tie the game.
In the bottom of the 12th inning David Ortiz came up to bat and in one swing supplanted Barry Bonds as the most terrifying hitter on the planet. Ortiz popped a two-run walk-off home run to win the game for the Red Sox.
The Series was then 3-1, still leaning in the Yankees favor.
Then in Game 5 déjà vu strikes like lightning. Teams tied 4-4 going to extras and in the bottom of the 14th Ortiz hits another walk-off, this time a single to center, driving in Johnny Damon.
The Series was 3-2.
Then Game 6 happened.
This was the “Bloody Sock Game” for Curt Schilling. He had a torn tendon sheath in his ankle, which would presumably obliterate his chances of being effective on the mound. As with everything in this series, it didn’t go as common logic would suspect. Schilling ends up dealing, finishing with seven innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits and striking out four while getting the win for the Red Sox.
I should also mention that while I respect anyone who can perform through an injury (I’ve been there, I get it, it isn’t fun) I have despised Curt Schilling since I was 10 years old and I do not see that changing anytime soon. Not that I’m still bitter or anything.
The Series was tied 3-3.
In Game 7 the Red Sox massacred the Yankees, winning 10-3 thanks to home runs from Damon and Ortiz (his third of the series).
The Red Sox won all four games in a row, won the ALCS, and then went onto win the World Series for the first time in 86 years a week later.
David Ortiz was rightfully named ALCS MVP and Public Enemy #1 for Yankee fans.
He was the living, breathing embodiment of the nickname “Yankee Killer.” I could not stand him as a kid, only because he caused incredible frustration over those four days in October that will now live forever.
I was able to move on from the 2004 ALCS when the Yankees won the World Series five years later. I didn’t change my mind about Ortiz until this year.
Last December I received my acceptance letter to my dream school of Boston University. I sit in the basement of the GSU on campus as I write this, fully in love with everything the school and city has to offer. It truly has become my new home. On December 15th, I actively started to care about Boston as my new home. I was proud of my city before I even knew where the closest Burger King was to my dorm. I was excited what can I say?
There is one day other than when I got in that will forever be in my memory.
On April 15th of 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev attacked the Boston Marathon with two pressure cooker bombs.
The attacks killed three at the marathon and wounded 264.
I sat in shock and horror watching CNN wondering about friends and family that were in the city. My cousin Julie actually appears on the surveillance video that was used to ID the perpetrators.
Thankfully I was able to account for everyone safe and sound. However, there was craziness and uncertainty surrounding the city for the next few days.
I was scheduled to visit Boston University on the 19th. That day became a lockdown. There was no one on the streets of Boston for the full day. The images were eerie at the time, and are even more unsettling now. With first hand experience on the busiest sidewalks of Fenway Park and Kenmore Square, to see them empty is, for lack of a better word, wrong.
That night the Boston Police were able to successfully capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This allowed the nightmare of uncertainty to end for the city.
The next day, the Red Sox were able to play in the reopened Boston. The stadium was filled not only with fans, but also police officers, first responders, runners and volunteers from the marathon.
Before the game, David Ortiz took the microphone.
In 2004 it was his job to disrupt normalcy and bring the Red Sox to victory.
In 2013 it was his job to restore normalcy and let the people of Boston know it was all going to be okay.
“This jersey that we’re wearing today it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says, ‘Boston.’ We want to thank you for you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department, for the great job that they did this past week, This is our fucking city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong”
Five months after he gave this speech, I still get chills. It sparks a feeling of pride in me that is really hard to put to words.
“This is our fucking city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom.”
That perfectly sums up the attitude of Boston that I fell in love with.
Much in the same way that I can get hit with another broken bone and I refuse to let it beat me, Boston can get attacked and then look the villains in the face and say “you messed with the wrong guys.”
When I think of Boston, I think of this incredible community of intelligent, amazing, hard working, tight knit community that is like a family. People look out for one another. I went to see the Red Sox play the other night against the White Sox I had someone come and help me up the ramp into the left field grandstands without asking. These people care.
I got to see Ortiz in person again that night, but this time as an official resident of Boston. For the first time in my life, I cheered for David Ortiz at a Red Sox game. I will never cheer against him again.
David Ortiz is a central point to some of the most significant points in my life over the last decade, and I’m proud to say that I am a fan of him and I hope that when his shockingly effective career (2,000 hits, 427 Home Runs) comes to a close, he will have a plaque in Cooperstown.
Maybe he doesn’t have the numbers for it in comparison to others, but he also has brought Boston memories that will never fade, and that deserves some special recognition.
Today is a special day for Big Papi. Allow me to offer my congratulations on the big 2K, and here’s hoping for a third ring in a few months.
David Ortiz is what is right with Boston, and I love every minute of it.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Connorlenahan.com. He is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism.