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By honoring David Ortiz, Boston bolsters its multicultural image

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox celebrated a three run home run during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016.PATRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES

Lee este editorial: Al honrar a David Ortiz, Boston reafirma su propia imagen multicultural

D avid Ortiz has earned a unique place in Boston’s history — and not just its sports history. In embracing Ortiz, who will play his last game sometime this month, Boston is not only honoring an exceptional individual on and off the field. The city is also reinforcing an image of itself as international and multicultural, as a place that can learn lessons from the past and rise above historic tensions over race .

Boston was a very different place when Bill Russell, a black athlete of astonishing talent, encountered a frosty reception. The legendary Boston Celtics center was targeted for being black and had constantly to endure racial slurs, so much so that Russell famously referred to Boston as a “flea market of racism.” Now, one of every five residents is Latino, with Dominicans accounting for 13 percent of the city’s total foreign-born population. They recently surpassed Puerto Ricans as the largest Hispanic national-origin group in Boston.

Big Papi’s athletic accomplishments, of course, speak for themselves. He comes up big: There were his two walk-off home runs in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees, and the game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the 2013 ACLS against the Detroit Tigers.


He has also translated his celebrity into meaningful community service. His foundation, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, established in 2007, supports a range of causes that Ortiz believes in, both here in New England and in his native Dominican Republic. To date, the foundation has raised about $2 million and provided life-saving surgery for more than 600 children. And then there was Big Papi’s rallying cry after the Boston Marathon bombings — unprintable here, but cathartic, galvanizing, electrifying.

Many great athletes linger too long. And surely one of the most impressive things about Ortiz is that he’s going out on top. He’s had a remarkable season in 2016: 38 home runs, 127 runs batted in, with a slugging percentage of .620. It’s only fitting that the Red Sox have chosen to retire his number, and that his name will be emblazoned on a bridge and a street outside Fenway Park.

His prowess on the field was a boon for fans, and his character and resilience have been a gift for Bostonians, who embraced him as one of their own.