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Celebrating David Ortiz’s greatest moments: the one where he won an entire World Series by himself

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Even for a man with no shortage of postseason heroics to his name, David Ortiz’ performance in the 2013 World Series stands alone.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

I had to think about what to write here for a while. Even the fact that I’m writing about someone who was so intrinsically important to me even though we never met in person in this way is really sad. I’ve been in denial this entire season, pretending that this retirement wasn’t coming up when the dust settled.

And now it’s here, and Papi’s gone, and I’m heartbroken even though I’d been steeling myself for this day for years now.

That’s not to say that he won’t be around next year, because the odds of Papi showing up to Spring Training just to hang out for a while are pretty high. But he won’t be at the plate when the game is on the line anymore, and that stings.

For Red Sox fans in general, 2004 was perhaps the most important season in recent franchise history. The Curse was overturned and a baseball championship was back in Boston for the first time in 86 years. The significance of that moment, that year, is not lost on me, but the team I’ve always felt the tightest connection with won the World Series three years later. I was a freshman at Gettysburg College who was having trouble making friends in the fall of 2007, so the closest friends I had besides the folks I’d left at home in New Jersey were people I chatted with online about baseball and, by extension, the players who were on my TV every night. The Red Sox stuck around for as long as possible and won their second World Series in three years, giving me this little extra burst of comfort when I was far from home and very lonely.

Years passed, and I graduated college and started grad school back home. During my first semester of graduate school in the spring of 2013, I got a text from my younger brother, a freshman at Boston University telling me that he was okay and that he loved us. I turned on the television to discover that bombs had gone off not far from my brother’s freshman dorm, Warren Towers, and that the city was at a standstill. He had tickets to the Sox game that Friday, but it was clear that the game was going to be postponed. There was a much more important matter at hand.

By Friday night, the surviving bomber had been captured and taken into custody, and the Sox game was on for Saturday afternoon. Sitting at work the next day, I received a video text from my brother: Papi’s pregame speech.

My kid brother witnessed This Is Our Fucking City.

I remember feeling a very distinct twinge of jealousy since I was the bigger Sox fan out of the two of us (we’re a Sox - Mets family; really, we just hate the Yankees), but that quickly faded when I thought about how important the moment my brother was present for actually was. It was in that moment that I realized just how much this one man meant to this city. Sure, Papi routinely got the most write-in votes during mayoral and city government elections, but that paled in comparison to the impromptu speech he delivered that cold Saturday afternoon. In that moment, he was the mayor - hell, the leader of an entire region of the United States - and he was going to make sure that he picked up his city and carried them as far as they needed to be carried.

As it were, that meant putting the team on his back, as well, and schlepping them to another World Series title, perhaps the most important of all three of the Red Sox’s titles in this century. Not in terms of baseball, but of things much larger. 2004 broke the Curse and 2007 brought a whole slew of new faces onto the scene, and proved that this team was going to be solid for a long time, but 2013 was absolutely the most remarkable and emotionally important. 2013 helped a city heal from something that had cut it very deeply.

As I mentioned briefly above, I’m from New Jersey - I live just outside of New York City. I was 12 years old on September 11th, 2001, and I have a lot of distinct memories of that day, like most residents of the area I’m from. The strongest memory I have, though, comes from several days after the attacks, when baseball returned to New York and Mike Piazza hit a game-winning home run. For the first time in weeks, I felt a little better, a little safer, a little more normal.

David Ortiz did the same thing for Boston in 2013. Not just on that Saturday, but for months to come, all the way through October. He picked up his entire team, and in doing so, picked up his fucking city. And he did no more heavy lifting than in the World Series.

David Ortiz quite literally carrying an entire baseball team.
Baseball Reference

In 16 at-bats, he singled 11 times, doubled twice, and homered twice, whilst only striking out once. He also drew 8 walks. He scored 7 runs and drove in 6 more. The team scored a total of 27 runs in that World Series, and David Ortiz was involved in some way with roughly half of them. He scored a bit over one-fourth of the entire run total entirely by himself. This was a man on a mission, a man determined beyond all else to bring some normalcy back to the city (strangely, that now means winning in October) that had embraced him and given him a new home. A man who wanted to give back to the city that loved him so much and that he loved so much in return.

David Ortiz, Boston is and always will be your fucking city. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Boston over all these years - and especially for giving the city a championship when it needed joy the most. We’ll miss you, buddy.