BOSTON — David Ortiz’s entire Red Sox career has been packed with moments of tension, pressure and incredible importance. None, according to the nine-time All-Star, compare to April 20, 2013.
That was the day Ortiz boldly proclaimed, “This is our (expletive) city,” before the Red Sox’s first game at Fenway Park since the Boston Marathon bombing. It was an emotional day for all involved, including the man handed a microphone to address a grieving city.
“It wasn’t just being nervous. I was scared,” Ortiz said Friday. “How wonderful this country is and as great as this country has been to every single citizen, just seeing (the bombing) was something that there was no sport involved, there was no media, there was no superhuman. It was us as citizens and human beings seeing the way everything was going down.
“But the best thing that I can tell you from everything,” Ortiz continued, “was the way everybody got together and the way everybody fought back. That was one of the most amazing and unbelievable feelings that I ever had. When I went out there and said whatever I said into the microphone, it was coming from a citizen.”
Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, officially became a U.S. citizen in 2008, but the slugger became an important face of Boston well before then. Ortiz, who signed with the Red Sox before the 2003 season, guided the club to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, officially closing the book on years of championship futility for one of baseball’s most historic franchises.
No moment, however, signifies Ortiz’s true impact on the city of Boston like last April’s speech. The slugger’s candid words seemingly came from the heart and perfectly encapsulated the city’s resilience.
“I think it’s going to be very emotional,” Ortiz said Friday in anticipation of Monday — the first Patriots’ Day and Boston Marathon since last year’s attack. “There’s going to be a lot of happiness, too, more than sadness because of the way this city bounced back and the way that 360 (degree) turnaround shows up (and) how fast it shows up and how people regroup. The frustration we have from a year ago, people learn from that and people know that this is the place to be because of how we got behind each other and supported each other.”
Ortiz, an 18-year veteran in his 12th season with the Red Sox, might enjoy a few more clutch at-bats, produce a few game-winning hits or even earn another World Series ring before calling it a career. Just don’t expect any of those moments to trump the day he perfectly put into words what an entire city was thinking and feeling.