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David Ortiz receives a hero’s welcome as grand marshal of the Boston Marathon

Race grand marshal David Ortiz held the Boston Marathon winner's trophy after he arrived at the finish line Monday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

As David Ortiz stepped out of the back seat of an aquamarine Honda CRV, the crowd surrounding the finish line on Boylston Street burst into raucous applause.

Ortiz, the Hall of Fame slugger who delivered an iconic speech after the Marathon bombings in 2013, served as the 2023 Boston Marathon grand marshal. Ortiz was awarded the Patriots’ Award by the Boston Athletic Association and the City of Boston, which is presented “to a New England-based individual, group, or organization that is patriotic, philanthropic, and inspirational, and fosters goodwill and sportsmanship.”

“I always tell people everywhere I go: New England is the type of town that knows how to regroup, how to bounce back, knows how to put it together,” Ortiz said. “That’s one of the things that made me really proud.”


As Ortiz shuffled down the street, onlookers tried to get a glimpse of the former Red Sox designated hitter. Fans frantically reached for their pockets to grab their phones and snap pictures of Ortiz, attired in black from head to toe.

David Ortiz acknowledges the crowd as he puts the marathon trophy on the finish line before Monday's race.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

One man, walking his dog, raced to the railing to get a better look at Ortiz, up close and personal.

Another looked up from his iPhone and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, it’s David Ortiz!”

After conducting a three-minute interview, Ortiz chatted with police officers, patting one on the back as he waved to fans screeching their admiration.

Many shouted, “We love you, Big Papi!” as applause rained down along with real raindrops.

“People have asked me if I was ready to go out there and say what I said,” said Ortiz. “I always tell people, when you are a citizen, when you feel for your country, you do that and more. It was something that just came out natural. I’m glad that people take it in a positive type of way. If I had to do it again, I’d do it again.”


After appearing at the starting line for the first time, Ortiz was escorted to the finish line. Swept up in the emotion of the 10-year remembrance of the Marathon bombings, an emotional Ortiz reflected on the power of his speech and the resolve of the community.

“ ‘Boston Strong’ is the type of phrase that was needed when we really needed it,” said Ortiz. “We reunited New England. We went through something that was not expected but we handled it, we got together. This town is amazing.”

Cam Kerry can be reached at