NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

David Ortiz: Beyond the batters box

Another autumn is well under way and along with the holiday cheer, bright colors, and pumpkin spice lattes there is another thing notorious to October around here.  The Red Sox used to be known for their epic collapses right around now but over the years they have flipped the script.  Over the last decade and a half, David Ortiz has lead them to the promised land again and again.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the way it went this year.  In his last year before retirement, David Ortiz enjoyed one of his best seasons ever in the big leagues.  Leading the league in OPS while hitting 38 homeruns, with a 3.15 average, and being serenaded by every crowd in the league, I think it fair to say he enjoyed his final season.  Regular season that is.  The playoffs were a completely different story.

The Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians of all teams.  With many ex Red Sox players on their squad including Manager Terry Francona who managed the Ortiz-lead Sox to two world championships himself in 2004 and 2007, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of most Red Sox fans who were hoping to see one last deep playoff run.  So, I asked around NECC to see what some of the favorite memories David Ortiz has left behind for the students to remember.  “He is one of my favorites of all time, 2004 has to be the best, but he has come through for the city so many different times.  Against the Tigers that home run with the cop celebrating in the bullpen, classic,” said first year NECC student Tyler Rogers.

Luckily, all the disappointment may only last until next year.  Big Papi’s legacy will not be judged by how well he did during his last regular season or how badly the team performed in the playoffs but rather his massive effect on so many in the region.  He was the one who erased the 86-year curse in 2004 essentially by himself.  He was the one who carried the team again to a championship in 2013 after the Boston bombings. That year he also made a speech that will go down in history as one of the best ever, bringing together a community in need after terror struck the city.  Maybe David Ortiz should have run for president this election cycle, he may have got a lot of votes, just not from Yankee fans.  Some students around NECC even think he should run for Mayor.  “I’d vote for him guy, he’s the best.”  said second year student Marc Scaglione.

As a child growing up in New England, I had a couple of heroes.  Tom Brady and David Ortiz.  If you are a sports fan you are extremely lucky to grow up around Boston during this time period.  It is the equivalent of having Ted Williams and Joe Montana playing for your city at the same time. I don’t think people will realize how much these two epic stars will be missed until they are both gone.  When I asked what people will miss the most about him NECC student John Crane had some ideas. “Probably the speech he made in 2013 after the bombing, I specifically remember watching that with my parents and immediately having even more respect for him.”  I asked John if he made it to any of the games this year, “I did actually, I went to the first game of his last series in Boston, against Toronto, you can tell how much he means to everyone in the area.”

Ortiz has a big heart and it shows.  He has numerous charities including a couple which work in the Dominican Republic.  Although he says Boston is now his home, his reasons for retirement were simple.  He wants to spend more time with his children and visit his country.  You may think that he would know his country very well at this point but oh contraire.  He grew up very poor and says he has never been to many beautiful parts of his country.

Like it or not cities in America have always and will always be built around the legacy of their heroes.  Politicians, gangsters, civil right activists, first responders and more.  None of those are able to connect with the heartstrings of the people as well as sports stars do.  Boston count your blessing because we have had an abundance of them lately. If you know anything about sports, you know we were all just witness to history.