When David Ortiz hit that dramatic home run in the eighth inning against the Yankees on Friday night, nobody was more excited than a 6-year-old boy in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Maverick Schutte has undergone more than 30 surgical procedures because of a congenital heart defect and along the way become friendly with former Red Sox player Kevin Millar, a longtime supporter of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Before the game, Millar filmed a video with Ortiz to send to Maverick, wishing him well. Ortiz also promised he would hit a home run later that night.
“When he saw the video he jumped on top of me and hugged me and said, ‘This is the best day of my life.’ He wouldn’t go to bed; he had to watch the game,” said Marti Linnane, Maverick’s mother, on Saturday.
“When David hit the home run, it was such a thrill. We knew why it happened.”
When Ortiz hit the home run, he did not remember his promise until he crossed the plate and saw Millar in the stands with his children and pulled them close for a group hug.
“I was walking towards the dugout and I saw Millar and his kids, that was when I started thinking about it,” Ortiz said.
Mike Linnane, Maverick’s father, is a Portsmouth, N.H., native who follows all of the Boston sports teams avidly. Their family watches Red Sox games via MLB’s Extra Innings package.
“We’re a Red Sox family,” Marti Linnane said. “We were married in our Red Sox jerseys and Maverick loves doing family things. We always watch the games together. That is his favorite thing to do. We scream and yell during the game. We love the Red Sox.”
Maverick is being treated at Denver Children’s Hospital and has spent much of his life there. He recently had a ventilator removed and is preparing for another round of surgery. Before the season ends, he hopes to visit Fenway Park and thank Ortiz in person for that home run.
“It was God putting his hands on a baseball player. We all know it’s not that easy. But I have been able to get things done like that on a few different occasions,” Ortiz said. “I think God is the one who takes over this stuff.”
The home run came off Dellin Betances, one of the best relievers in the game. Ortiz had been 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against him before the home run.
“Maverick just knew David was going to do it,” Marti Linnane said. “We were all so excited.”
Before Maverick finally went to bed, he sent a video to Ortiz via Millar.
“Big Papi, you never let me down and you’re the best player ever in the Red Sox game and I’m trying the hardest to get out there to Fenway Park and meet you,” he said. “Bye!”
Millar rushed to the clubhouse after the game to show Ortiz.
“Millar was crying when he showed me the video that Maverick sent back,” Ortiz said. “It was very touching. I started thinking about it when I got home. That was when I really was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this really happened.’
“I’m crazy about kids. Especially a sick kid, when you see what he’s going through, that situation, I can’t imagine. It’s a good thing when you can put a smile on a kid who is sick.”
Ortiz plans to send Maverick some autographed gear in the coming days. Down the road, there could be a meeting at Fenway Park.
Maverick has survived heart failure and an infection in his heart and soon will have a fifth open-heart procedure.
“It has been a crazy road,” Marti Linnane said. “He’s such a positive kid and full of life. We’re hoping he gets what he wishes for and we go to Fenway. He’s never been to Boston and this is David’s last season. I know he’s going to try his hardest.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell saw the videos after the game and heard the story of Maverick. Like everybody else, he was moved.
“It’s a storybook situation. You could say the legend of David Ortiz is far-reaching,” Farrell said. “It’s pretty awesome to see the family’s response and Maverick’s response back to David.
“Players, I don’t know if they truly understand the impact and how far-reaching their impact can be. To have it play out like that is really a cool thing.”
Righthanded reliever Carson Smith pitched a perfect inning for Double A Portland against Reading on Saturday. He struck out one and threw six of his nine pitches for strikes.
“A clean, solid, strong inning,” Farrell said.
Smith will be evaluated at Fenway Park on Sunday and the plan remains to activate him on Tuesday in Chicago.
Finding a roster spot for Smith won’t be simple. Righthanders Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree have pitched well. Tommy Layne has been used the least since the start of the season but is one of two lefthanders.
The Red Sox got back to having four position players on the bench with the promotion of infielder Marco Hernandez from Triple A Pawtucket. Righthanded reliever Pat Light was optioned . . . When Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez homered on Friday, it was the first game in major league history that a player age 40 or older homered for each team . . . Pablo Sandoval will travel to Florida on Sunday. He has an appointment scheduled for Monday with Dr. James Andrews to get more information on his injured left shoulder . . . Rodriguez also did a good deed on Friday. After he homered in the second inning, Rodriguez gave his bat to 8-year-old David Moss. An Arizona resident, Moss was at Fenway for the first time. He was fulfilling the wish of his late father for David to see a game at the park. David also got an autograph from Ortiz.