There could be 38,000 people chanting David Ortiz’s name, but the second the Boston Red Sox slugger crosses home plate following a home run, it’s a special moment reserved for two.
By now, you’ve probably seen the celebration — Ortiz pointing to the sky — but you might not have known that it’s a tribute to his mother, who died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic before the 2002 season.
“A mother’s love is a special love that, when you have your mom, just try to enjoy it,” Ortiz recently told NESN’s Tom Caron in an exclusive interview that premiered last Friday night on “David Ortiz: The Journey,” presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino. “That’s the message that I try to send everyone, because I had a really good relationship with my mom and I ended up losing her in a car accident in the Dominican 14 years ago.
“To me, I think she never left; you know, that’s how I feel. I feel like I always have her around me. And trust me, there have been some times that I hit a homer and I’m running and I get to the plate, when I look up, I feel like I see her. It’s the kind of connection that I feel like I have with my mom and that never goes away.”
Ortiz surely has made Mom proud since her tragic death. Not only has he had an excellent major league career following a tough upbringing in the Dominican, but he also has three children with his wife, Tiffany, and has been a pillar within the community, both in Boston and his native country.
“I always feel like kids deserve the best life out of every human, and it’s because kids don’t know any better,” Ortiz told Caron. “Like, the other day, I’m sitting in my backyard at my house and my son came and told me, ‘Hey dad, I’m going to sleep. Goodnight.’ And while he was walking away, I was realizing like, ‘Man, you know what? Every child deserves a life like my son.’
“But I know how hard it is to get there. I know how families struggle. My family struggled raising me up. I come from a poor family where my mom and dad, they worked pretty much all day. I was raised pretty much by my aunt — my dad’s sister — because my dad and my mom, they were always working to give us the best.”
Ortiz might only have a few more home plate celebrations left in him as he prepares to retire after this season. The special bond between him and his mother forever will live on, though, just like the on-field memories of one of the most influential players in Red Sox history.
“David Ortiz: The Journey,” presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino, will re-air Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 11:30 p.m. ET (after “NESN Sports Today”) and Saturday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. ET (before Red Sox pregame coverage).
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images