The Boston Red Sox getting knocked out of the post season by the Cleveland Indians on Monday wasn’t the Hollywood ending that fans had hoped for David “Big Papi” Ortiz, but it didn’t quell the outpouring of love for the adored designated hitter.
Ortiz, 40, had his farewell tour at the end of the regular season, and despite the unceremonious end to his 20-year career, he still went out on a high note.
“We want Papi,” fans at Fenway chanted long after
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) October 11, 2016
“When I walked to the mound, I realized that it was over,” he said during the post-game press conference, NESN reported. “And the emotion came back out again.”
Ortiz was a 10-time MLB All-Star, a three-time World Series champion (including one that ended an 86-year drought), and he holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs with 54, set during the 2006 season. He hit 541 career home runs and ranks 17th on the MLB’s all-time home run list.
But it wasn’t just Big Papi’s professional performance that won him the hearts of Boston fans — and now a street and a bridge named after him. It was his infectious personality.
Ortiz memorably took the mic ahead of the first Sox game at Fenway after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, where he told the crowd, “This is our f—ing city, and no one is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
On Monday, it was the biggest names in sports and entertainment who had messages of their own for Big Papi. Actor John Cusack called him “pure class,” and Denis Leary said his favorite Big Papi moment was the “#TheSpeech,” while wearing a “Retired not Expired” T-shirt.
Even former rival and New Yankees star Alex Rodriguez showed his respect, tweeting, “The best clutch hitter I ever played against. Congrats on an amazing career.”
Last week, fellow Boston sports icon Tom Brady begged Ortiz not to retire via Facebook, but sadly not even the New England Patriots QB’s request could be granted.
See the latest tweets below.
— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) October 11, 2016
Big Papi – pure class – thank you for the thrills as a baseball fan https://t.co/7uZSiBx4xX
— John Cusack (@johncusack) October 11, 2016
— Denis Leary (@denisleary) October 10, 2016
#ThanksPapi My active career homers against just went down ????
— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) October 11, 2016
It's a sad day #ThanksPapi
— Red Sox Nation (@RedSoxNation_02) October 11, 2016
I just wanted to say thanks Big Papi for all the good you have done on the field & off in Boston. #Respect
— Leon Powe (@Leon_Powe) October 11, 2016
An impressive list from Big Papi with a few surprises. https://t.co/S0U3qoV4Pz
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) October 11, 2016
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 11, 2016
Thank you for always being yourself Big Papi….a total savage. It was an honor watching you play. One more year? (Not in my division) pic.twitter.com/O40zrzM9Cn
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) October 11, 2016
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) October 11, 2016
Let's go Red Sox. Not ready to let go of Big Papi yet
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 10, 2016
— Garbage Time (@GarbageTime) October 11, 2016
So… that's it for Big Papi. That feels so wrong to say.
— Kristen Balboni (@KristenBalboni) October 11, 2016
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) October 11, 2016
— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) October 5, 2016