Here is a newsflash: I am a Boston Red Sox fan.
That should come as a no surprise to anyone who knows me, has heard me speak or has read this blog.
As I love to point out, I have been a Red Sox fan since I was in utero. No surprise there either. If you were born in Boston or in most of New England (maybe part of Western Connecticut is the exception), you have to be a Red Sox fan.
It wasn’t always fun. I grew up watching the Red Sox finish in or near last place until 1967 when, in the year of the Impossible Dream, they came within one game of winning the World Series. That happened again in 1975 and 1986, each year bringing such excitement and then such disappointment.
And then came 2004.
And the whole world changed.
The Red Sox were down 3 games to none to the Yankees in the ALCS when, thanks to a 9th inning comeback-featuring a stolen base by Dave Roberts and a clutch single by Bill Mueller), the game went into extra innings.
Then in the bottom of the 12th inning, David Ortiz came up to the plate and hit a long home run into Right Field.
The legend was born.
The next night, another game winning hit by Ortiz, this time in the 14th inning.
The Sox won the next two and swept the Cardinals in the Series.
And through it all, there was David Ortiz, big Papi, smiling with his infectious smile, encouraging his teammates, laughing with key hit after key hit.
It went on from there. The Sox won the Series again in 2007 and, most impressively, in 2013.
2013 was the year of the Boston Marathon Bombing and David Ortiz lifted the team- and the city- on his back and with the slogan Boston Strong, endeared himself to the entire baseball (and non-baseball world) by taking the microphone before the first home game after the bombing and, after thanking all of the first responders and city and state leaders, uttered the unforgettable words: “Our uniforms today don’t say Red Sox. They say BOSTON.This is our f***ing city…Stay Strong!” Those words echoed though
He led the Sox to a great season, had the key hit in the ALCS against the Tigers and then led them to an improbable World Series win. His batting average for the series was an unheard of .688.
And now Big Papi is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
He is in the Hall of Fame because of his prodigious home runs and his team leadership.
But, he is there for another reason as well.
He is there because he was (and still is in some ways), the face of a team which finally rewarded its loyal fans and the face of a city which had been wounded so deeply by terrorism.
He is there because of his bat- and because of his smile.
Congratulations Big Papi!!!!