BOSTON – He came up with one out in the ninth inning Sunday. A home run would tie the game.

But David Ortiz hit a little dribbler in front of the plate and easily was thrown out.

How could he?

“We’ve become so spoiled,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said, “because of what he’s accomplished. “When he doesn’t hit a ball out of the ballpark in key moments you say, ‘damn, why didn’t he do it?’

“That’s the unfair expectations he’s created.”

Ortiz played his last regular-season game with Boston but in typical Red Sox fanfare, didn’t go out quietly, even if the boxscore read 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.


The results became an afterthought after a long, emotional pregame tribute. In the ceremony, before the expected onslaught of former teammates streamed into Fenway Park, the team presented gifts and surprise announcements.

“Unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting so much,” Ortiz said. “Everything went better than perfect.”

One unexpected announcement was that Ortiz’s No. 34 will be retired next year. Normally a player has to wait years for the honor and a Hall of Fame membership is often a requirement.

But there’s no patience for all that.

“With all due respect to the greats who have played here … The way this franchise has elevated itself, there may be no more important player ever,” Farrell said.

“It would be a great debate. And there would be tremendous support for some of those other great names. But you can make the argument that he may be the most important player in franchise history to date.”


Ortiz won’t take part in the debate. He has too much respect for Ted Williams.

“Times are different,” Ortiz said. “He played the game, went to war, and came back three years later and raked. I’m always going to look at that as a super-hero kind of thing.

“I love the fact that people want to show me the appreciation for what I’ve done in this organization … But I always appreciate what Mr. Ted Williams did for us.”

And while Ted Williams has a tunnel named after him, Ortiz also was placed on the Boston map Sunday. During a presentation with the governor and mayor, there is now a David Ortiz Bridge (on Brookline Avenue, over the Massachusetts Turnpike) and a David Ortiz Drive (the new road connecting Fenway with the commuter rail stop).

“Anytime you have a bridge and a road named after you, you have one hell of a legacy,” quipped Farrell.

Ortiz also got gifts – a golden baseball bat and a pair of black L.L. Bean boots (presented by third-base coach Brian Butterfield, a Mainer). And there was a big check from the Red Sox.


The Red Sox Foundation donated $500,000 – and the Red Sox ownership group matched it – for a total of $1 million given to Ortiz’s charity, which helps children receive life-saving surgeries.

It was announced that 562 surgeries have been performed.

And in one of the best moments of the day, a 6-year-old who had his heart surgically repaired ran out to hug Ortiz.

Another touching moment came when Ortiz spoke with his father standing next to him. First, Ortiz thanked God, then his family.

“I want to thank my mom,” Ortiz began, but then bowed his head, trying to stay composed. Ortiz’s mother died 14 years ago (it is to her that Ortiz points after each home run).

“I have all my family on the field. My dad. My wife and kids. My sisters. I felt like something was missing,” Ortiz said later. “I was very close to Mom. Emotion comes through.”


Ortiz finished his speech by dropping to one knee and saying, “And last, I want to thank all of you,” as he tipped his cap.

“The whole game depends on the fans,” he said. “They deserve that and more.”

While Ortiz spoke gratefully after the game, three days of celebrations and interviews had taken their toll.

“I’m exhausted,” he said. “I’m so happy that it’s over so I can focus for what’s coming up next – the playoffs.”

The postseason. There will be a time when Ortiz will come to bat, a key moment in the game.

What do you expect will happen?


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