WALTHAM, Mass. – Among the many surprises at Fenway Park during David Ortiz’ final regular-season homestand this past weekend, was the entire Celtics roster on hand Saturday night to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It was unbelievable. It was a great experience. I was so proud of David,” said Celtics big man Al Horford, who has known Ortiz for years. “He means a lot to a lot of us. Just to be there for me was very special. I didn’t imagine I could be part of something like that. It was a lot of fun.”
Indeed, the recognition and celebration of Big Papi’s time with the Red Sox (he has been on the team since 2003) left an indelible impression on Boston forward Jae Crowder.
"One of the most memorable things I’ve done in my life,” Crowder said. “It was a big moment for him. He was very surprised that we were all out there. Just the love that he got … it was tremendous. I was happy to be part of it.”
Veteran players Horford and Crowder have an appreciation for Ortiz and what he has accomplished. It’s a little different than it is for younger players.
They know all too well how challenging things can be as you try to help guide your team to success, something Ortiz did by helping Boston win a trio of World Series championship (2004, 2007 and 2013).
That’s part of the reasons why the 10-time All-Star’s success with the Red Sox is so remarkable in this day and age when players change teams the way most folks change sneakers.
Ortiz will fondly be remembered as one of the greatest players in Red Sox history, a point drilled home by the organization when it announced over the weekend that his jersey number 34 would be retired.
The Red Sox have established more than just a winning culture since his arrival, but a level of expectation that success isn’t a goal but an expectation (at least every other year it seems) that they will compete for a spot in the World Series.
“It was good for all of us obviously,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “But for the new guys, guys new to Boston, to be standing out in the rain and mist and see every seat full and see Ortiz … was really good.”
There were gifts handed out to the Future Hall of Famer, who became emotional during his speech Sunday when talking about his mother.
For Crowder, his most memorable moment of Ortiz was the speech he game shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings.
“That’ll go down in history,” said Crowder, referring to Ortiz’ speech. “A guy who really took on this culture of what this city about. He represented it very well. I’ll never forget that. That’ll be one of the keys to his legacy.”