BOSTON — The sellout crowd at Fenway Park on Monday didn’t get the Red Sox win they hoped for. But, as has been the case so many times when David Ortiz is involved, it got to witness history.
Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 3 of the American League Division Series marked the retiring slugger’s final major league game ever. That momentous occasion didn’t disappoint, as Ortiz came back onto the field after the game to salute the Fenway crowd one last time.
Ortiz teared up as he tipped his cap to the fans, a rare public display of emotion from a player who’s constantly kept his composure in big moments. So, what was going through his head?
The 40-year-old Dominican Republic native said after the game there were three instances this season when his emotions “popped:” The moment he learned about Jose Fernandez’s death, his ceremony during the Red Sox’s regular-season finale and Monday night.
This instance, though, was different.
“The reality is that there’s two times I know I was going to continue playing baseball,” Ortiz said during a lengthy postgame press conference. “I know there was more games to go. But (Monday night), when I walked to the mound, I realized that it was over. It was pretty much — probably the last time as a player (I’ll) walk in front of a crowd. And the emotion came back out again.”
The Fenway Faithful wasn’t sure if it would get to see Ortiz when he disappeared into the Red Sox’s dugout with the rest of the team after Travis Shaw made the final out. Fortunately for the crowd — and the rest of Red Sox Nation watching on television — word got to Big Papi that he was needed for one last curtain call.
“We went into the clubhouse after the last out, and (manager) John (Farrell) has his moment with all of us,” Ortiz explained. “I also said something to my teammates. And the (Red Sox’s public relations staff) came to me and told me — right after the meeting, they told me that the fans were expecting me. There were calling my name out there. So, I definitely always want to show love for the fans.”
Ortiz maintained his composure until he reached the field. Then, he lost it.
“I started thinking — I had my moment once I walked to the mound,” he added. “I started looking around, and the moment hits you, knowing that you’re not going to be able to be performing in the baseball world, in front of all these — no disrespect to anyone, but I think we have the best fans, worldwide.
“It’s something that, it kind of hit me a little bit. I’m not going to lie to you. Like I said, I’ve been trying to hold my emotions the (best) I can, but at that last second, I couldn’t hold it no more.”
Now, it’s Red Sox fans’ turn to let go.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images