Above all else, David Ortiz is beloved because he is good man

Alex Reimer
June 10, 2019 - 12:13 pm

While laying on the operating table late Sunday, David Ortiz reportedly told his surgeon to not let him die, because he is a good man. That is the best way to summarize why Big Papi is one of the most beloved Boston athletes ever. 

Ortiz was maybe the best clutch hitter of his generation and face of the Red Sox through their first three World Series titles this century. His playoff success was unparalleled; his leadership was downright unquantifiable. But Ortiz’s Godlike status isn’t best understood through October box scores or even video of World Series dugout pep talks. His true essence is captured through the utter euphoria that often accompanies his sobriquet when it is screamed by adorners. 


Most of us don’t actually know David Ortiz, of course. But we know how people respond to him. His season-long retirement tour demonstrated his gargantuan impact across the sport of baseball, even if we were all too busy making fun of it to notice. The list of David Ortiz proteges and teammates stretches two generations of Red Sox baseball, linking Pedro Martinez  to Mookie Betts.

As expected, the baseball and Boston sports community has rallied around Ortiz in the aftermath of this gruesome shooting. Ortiz is in stable condition after surgery, according to his father. The gunshot did not damage any major organs. 

“I’m at peace knowing you out of danger; you a strong man Compai, can’t wait to hear your voice,” Pedro tweeted.

A-Rod, one of Ortiz’s main on-field rivals, immediately offered his well-wishes, too. “Only prayers for (David Ortiz), Tiffany and their family,” he posted on Twitter.

Tom Brady, the only active Boston athlete who exists in Ortiz’s stratosphere, also tweeted his support. “Papi defines Boston Strong... get well soon my friend!!!,” Brady wrote. 

There is a reason why Ortiz’s post-Marathon speech at Fenway Park became Boston’s rallying cry following the bombings. The five words, “This is our f— city!!,” captured the heartbreak, dismay, and defiance the city felt in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. 

A Dominican-born relatively unknown first baseman who started his Red Sox career sitting behind Jeremy Giambi wound up becoming an icon in this notoriously provincial region. It is perhaps Ortiz’s most stunning accomplishment in a lifetime full of them.

Ortiz’s impact in Boston goes well beyond the intangible. His children’s fund has raised millions of dollars for underprivileged kids in need of heart surgery, helping to save thousands of lives in the U.S. and Dominican. 

As revered as Ortiz is in Boston, his stature rises to herculean levels in his home country. That was evident during each prolonged bro-hug Ortiz shared with his brethren on the base paths throughout his illustrious career.

Dominican police have arrested Ortiz’s shooter and U.S. law enforcement agencies are expected to involve themselves in the case as well. The person who tried to assassinate Ortiz in a crowded bar will now face the full force of justice. 

He tried to kill a good man. Fortunately for us, he did not succeed. 

Related: David Ortiz expected to make full recovery after shooting