Red Sox legend David Ortiz emphasized the importance and value of education in a commencement speech to Regis College graduates gathered Saturday on the Boston waterfront.
“It’s something that goes beyond what we all can think of,” Ortiz told more than 900 students, including his daughter. “You don’t need to be able to hit a 95-miles-an-hour fastball because you have all the slugging power you could need right there in your mind.”
“I mean it when I say you have all the tools you need to be successful,” he said to a roar of cheers and applause.
Regis, a private Catholic college in Weston, announced in February that the former Sox slugger and school neighbor would be honored at its 89th commencement. Ortiz put his Weston home on the market last February.
School officials presented Ortiz and Lawrence’s mayor, Dan Rivera, who also spoke, with honorary doctorates of law during the ceremony at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion.
Ortiz, getting a bit emotional on the stage, also underlined the importance of work ethic and family. He said hard work and preparation were integral to his career. “There are not successful people in this world who don’t work every day and get prepared every day to put up with the challenges,” he said.
“Woooh — all right, all right,” the man known as Big Papi said as he wiped tears from his eyes behind black sunglasses.
Ortiz thanked his family for working “extremely hard” to support him and helping him build the confidence to become a successful individual — for helping him become a better man, he said.
Confidence is everything, he affirmed.
“You have to believe in yourself,” he said. “Every time I stepped up to the plate, I was confident in myself and my skill. Why? Because I was smart. I was prepared. I worked hard. And I had the support of my family.”
Rivera, who has helped lead Lawrence through the aftermath of gas explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley in September, told students that embracing failure is important for growth.
“I have made many failures in my life, and every one of them have made me a better soldier, a better marketing professional, a better husband and a better father,” he said. “They have trained me to be a strong mayor for my community in the darkest hours. You have to strike out a lot to hit a lot of home runs.”
A Regis College spokeswoman confirmed Ortiz handed his daughter her diploma during the ceremony.
“I am proud of all of you,” he said at the end of his remarks. “God bless. Peace out. And go Sox.”
Alejandro Serrano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.