Maverick Schutte was 6 years old when Red Sox slugger David Ortiz promised to hit a home run for him in 2016. The young Red Sox fan from Wyoming had a congenital heart defect and had undergone more than 30 surgical procedures and was ecstatic to hear from Big Papi.
When Ortiz made good on his word, Schutte sent him a video message. “Big Papi, you never let me down and you’re the best player ever in the Red Sox game,” he said.
After learning that Ortiz had been shot Sunday night, Schutte made another video for his hero — this time, wishing him well as he recovers from the gunshot wound he received in the Dominican Republic.
“A few years ago you sent me a video saying that I need to stay strong and that you love me,” Schutte said. “Well, now I’m letting you know that I love you so much and you need to stay strong.”
Schutte’s video, which aired on Intentional Talk, an MLB Network show cohosted by former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, was just one of many messages of support sent to Ortiz, who has touched the lives of many on and off the baseball field.
"A few years ago you sent me a video saying I needed to stay strong and that you love me. Well, now I'm letting you know that I love you so much and you need to stay strong."— Intentional Talk (@IntentionalTalk) June 10, 2019
A message from our guy Maverick to his hero @davidortiz. #MaverickStrong pic.twitter.com/Xcaoj95zAH
It was Millar who told Ortiz about Schutte and the medical issues he was facing. On April 29, 2016, Millar and Ortiz sent a video message to Schutte on social media. In the video, Ortiz told the boy to stay positive.
“We love you. Remember that. We love you, OK?” Ortiz said. “Stay positive, keep the faith . . . and I’m going to hit a home run for you tonight. Remember that.”
“He’s hitting a home run for you, Maverick,” Millar said. “Love you, buddy.”
When Ortiz ended up hitting a dramatic homer in the eighth inning against the Yankees that night, Schutte was thrilled.
On May 11, 2016, Schutte got to hang out with Ortiz at Fenway Park and throw out the first pitch, with Ortiz playing catcher. Schutte’s mother said it was “the greatest day of his life.”
But Ortiz was the one who was really impressed.
“He’s been smiling the whole time he has been here. You’re talking about 6 years old and been through hell . . . He’s a hero,” Ortiz said. “You talk about superheroes? He’s a hero to be able to get through all the tough times.”
It’s interactions like those that Ortiz is known for, as he’s touched the lives of many other sick children through his charitable work.
Heather Young of Rochester, N.H., still remembers when Ortiz visited her son at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2015.
“He helped brighten up some of our darkest days,” she said.
Young has photos of Ortiz smiling and holding her son Lucas, and a photo of Lucas crawling through Big Papi’s legs.
“They’re fun little memories to look back on,” she said.
Young couldn’t believe when she heard the news that Ortiz had been shot.
“I think it’s quite shocking for everybody,” she said. “He does so much for the community. We’re very lucky to have people like David Ortiz.”
Young said she’s glad that Ortiz is back in Boston and receiving care at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“We just hope for a quick recovery for him,” she said. “We are certainly thinking of him.”
Hallie Lorber, president of the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, echoed those sentiments.
“Our prayers are with David and his family following the heartbreaking event [Sunday] evening in the Dominican Republic,” she said in a statement. “We, along with the Ortiz family and the Boston Red Sox, are focused on ensuring David continues to receive the best care possible to assist in his recovery. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and while we ask that everyone continue to send positive thoughts and prayers their way, please kindly respect the privacy of David and his family at this challenging time.”