The Last Time: The Story of David Ortiz’s Final Season


Photo Via the Associated Press

Red Sox’ Designated Hitter David Ortiz tips his cap to just a few members of Red Sox Nation.

So the Red Sox were playing a game this year. I can’t remember what day it was or what time it took place, but I remember that they were playing the Astros, and in the ninth inning, they were losing by a run.

Now with the way that the Red Sox have been hitting the ball this year, one run isn’t a big deal. But there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and it honestly just wasn’t looking like the Red Sox were going to be able to win this one.

But then this thing happened. You know, the thing that makes this story worth telling: David Ortiz stepped to the plate.

In simplest terms, David Ortiz is a baseball player for the Boston Red Sox. In not-so-simplest terms, David Ortiz is an icon. A legend. A hero. And David Ortiz–or, as he’s affectionately known by Red Sox Nation as, Big Papi–is known for doing one thing in particular really, really well: Coming up big in do-or-die situations.

And so the Red Sox were down by a run in the game. And there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. And David Ortiz came up to the plate.

Papi readjusted his batting gloves, then smacked them together. He picked up the bat, digging into the batter’s box. He took a couple of even half-swings right through the center of the strike zone–and then he hit a game-tying triple. And then, when the game went to extra innings, he hit a game-winning double.

But what makes this game memorable isn’t any of that. What makes this game memorable is what happened after Ortiz hit those baseballs, after the interviews had been conducted, and after the players were already in the locker room.

That day, I was at the Alderwood Mall with my sister, Amanda. We’d just gotten done watching the new Captain America movie and were in the Lego store. I was watching the game on my phone, and startled more then a few of my fellow shoppers with my outburst when Papi tied the game up.

When the game ended, we were already halfway home. Amanda was asleep as I listened to the game fade out, as the skies opened up and started pouring down on us mercilessly.

And I started crying.

Now I don’t mean nice, polite, silent crying. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe, that I was shaking my head and wiping my tears away, but it was futile because the tears were coming faster then I could wipe them away.

David Ortiz had announced his retirement in October of last year, before the current season started. But I’ve known that his retirement was coming for longer than that. But it wasn’t until then, in that moment, driving down the rain-soaked roads in Everett that I realized what was happening.

This is never going to happen again, I thought clearly through my tears. No one is ever going to do this again. No one is ever going to be this special, this historic, this amazing ever again. 

I cried for my broken heart. I cried for my Nation. I cried for baseball. 

David Ortiz’s rookie season was the same year that I was born. David Ortiz’s final season is the same year that I graduate from high school. Ever since I’ve been a Red Sox fan, David Ortiz has been there. It’s unconscionable to imagine a game without him; without the walk-offs and the clutch hits and the theatrics; without the postseason hits of ’04, the grand slam of ’13, and, of course, the 500th home run of ’15.

David Ortiz cannot be compared to anyone else–and I’m not talking about his baseball skills. His heart, his generosity, and his kindness are unparalleled anywhere in the sport. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him walk over to the stands, see a few kids dressed in Red Sox apparel, and hand them his batting gloves or a baseball or even his bat. I know this because at one crazy Mariners/Red Sox game a few years back, I happened to be, by a stroke of complete luck, one of those little kids dressed in Red Sox gear with a baseball in my hands, given to me by Big Papi.

When I thought about writing this, my final article for The AHS Eagle, I always knew it would be on Papi. But I thought it would be in defense of him; trying to persuade people that he’s not a cheater or that he belongs in the hall of fame. I thought that I would list fact after fact explaining why David Ortiz has been the best that has ever lived.

But I find that this is better. I find that one seventeen-year-old story’s about a day at the mall is far more powerful then any stat line or box score could ever be. But what I also find is that if you ask me about David Ortiz’s retirement, I really don’t have much to say.

It’s too bad, maybe.

Wonder what the Sox’ll do next year, even.

These things just barely scratch the surface. There are so many things that I want to say about it, but simply do not know how to.

So I leave you with this: After all of the recaps I’ve written, and all of the book reviews and all of the news stories, I pen this piece. A simple story about a girl, and her Red Sox, and the player that changed her life.