Decked out in all-black designer wear, somehow David Ortiz was able to keep his cool Thursday evening. His black Balenciaga trench coat fit perfectly to his herculean 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound frame. The sun reflected off his black-and-gold shades, but Ortiz didn’t need any more light. He had enough already.
The Red Sox introduced Ortiz as the newest member of the team’s Hall of Fame Thursday evening. The list also included Manny Ramirez, Rich Gedman, the late Bill Dinneen and former Sox general manager Dan Duquette. Yet Ortiz, of course, was the headliner.
“This is home,” Ortiz said of Boston and the Red Sox. Ortiz is headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July, but noted this moment is also special.
“I’m a Red Sox for life,” Ortiz said. “I was a guy that was, pretty much, at the beginning of my career, all over the place until I came home. This is a great organization and it taught me everything I know.”
Ortiz was a career .286 hitter, compiling .541 homers (483 with the Red Sox) along with 2,472 hits. He was a 10-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion (2013 World Series MVP), and was a part of the 2004 team that helped bring the Sox their first championship since 1918.
“We did it,” Ortiz said, reflecting on his 2004 squad. “We did it. We broke the curse. Matter of fact, I don’t think there was any curse. It was just about putting it together as a team. Everybody came in and did something to win games in the regular season and execute in the playoffs.”
Ortiz also showed his appreciation to the Fenway fans, saying they were the best in all of baseball, and loved the fact that they held him and his teammates to such high expectations. Ortiz said he didn’t like to take days off whenever there was a home game because he knew if the fans brought the energy, then it was up to him to do the same.
“I mean the fans want to win,” Ortiz said emphatically. “They want you to come and [leave it all] on the field and try to win games and championships. The fans are very supportive here. I will never complain about the fans here. I don’t care what anybody says.”
During the ceremony, former Red Sox starter and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, sat at Ortiz’s table along with Martinez’s wife, Carolina. Directly behind Ortiz’s table sat Gedman, who played parts of 11 seasons with the Red Sox from 1980-1990 and was a two-time All-Star (‘85, ’86). He made his return to the Sox in 2011 as hitting coach for the Single A Lowell Spinners. Gedman, a Worcester native, is now the hitting coach for Triple A Worcester.
“I want to say [the Red Sox] mean everything to me,” Gedman said. They helped me provide for my family for a long time. It’s the only vocation that I believe I’m any good. I’ve coached the last 12 years in the organization and certainly being on the player development staff is wonderful. I mean, some people say, ‘What’s your dream job?’ I said I’m living it. I coach Triple A in Western Massachusetts three blocks from where I grew up. To have something like this happen to me, I mean, this is a story you usually read about somebody else, not me.
Ramirez wasn’t in attendance, but Ortiz spoke highly of his former teammate, saying that oftentimes what the outside world didn’t know was how hard Ramirez worked.
“He didn’t like the camera as much,” Ortiz said. “But he was a great teammate and helped me out so much to become a better player. He’s always going to be in my heart, man. He’s my boy.”
Ramirez hit .316 with a Red Sox for parts of eight seasons, belting 291 homers.
Dinneen pitched for the Sox from 1902-07 with a 2.81 ERA, following two seasons with the Boston Beaneaters.
Duquette was the team’s general manager for eight seasons beginning in 1994 and played a large part in the Sox’ 2004 World Series title.
“It’s a great thrill for me, a great thrill for my family,” Duquette said. “We have four generations of Red Sox fans. I have always aspired to work for the Red Sox and it’s a great honor and privilege to have served the team. I was so grateful to be a part of this.”
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.