Last night, all of Red Sox Nation finally accepted that David Ortiz is actually retired as the team officially retired his jersey number, 34, in a pre-game ceremony. Most Red Sox fans, including myself, were in denial about Ortiz not being in a Red Sox uniform this season and may have secretly been hoping he would have suited up last night and played. But he didn’t.
It’s scary that players I watched as I was growing up are retiring. It seemed like for the longest time, anyone who was retiring played in the 1990s and I didn’t necessarily watch but knew about. But now it’s players I know and love leaving the game, and I don’t know if I can handle it.
Oritz was surrounded by his family, some former players, close friends, and a full Fenway Park of fans as his number was revealed in right field.
His 34 now hangs up with some of the greatest players to ever put on a Red Sox uniform: Ted Williams, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doeer, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Pedro Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Plus his number is left of the historic number 42 worn by Jackie Robinson, which is retired across Major League Baseball. Yaz, Jim, Pedro, and Wade made appearances, along with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek.
Current and former Red Sox players also posted about Ortiz online, and it’s amazing to see how many lives he touched and players he played with over his career. He had this effect on everyone, and as Pedey said last night, Ortiz will always be family.
I always sort of followed baseball when I was younger, but I didn’t start following a team until 2007, when I became a Red Sox fan. I didn’t watch the 2004 World Series but knew the story. I loved the 2007 with my entire heart, but it was soon replaced by the 2013 team. Ortiz was the hero Boston needed that year, and it couldn’t have ended any better than winning in Fenway. I cried on the couch in my apartment when they won because I needed a hero that year, too.
In four years, Ortiz will be eligible for the Hall of Fame, and he deserves that and more. No Red Sox player will ever wear number 34 again, and Oritz will go down in Red Sox history as one of the best.