David Ortiz is humbled by being honored in New York again; this time for post-baseball work

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Hall of Famer David Ortiz is committed to his post-career work like he was swinging a bat during his playing days.

He was honored in front of New York’s state Senate last week with the team he helps run: The David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

The former Red Sox star, a three-time World Series champ who frustrated Yankees fans during his career, was recognized for his prolific career and philanthropic work.

With the Red Sox celebrating the 20th anniversary of the club that ended an 86-year championship drought, the man known as “Big Papi” found himself front and center in Yankees territory, the team Boston overcame an 0-3 deficit against in the American League Championship Series before winning the 2004 World Series.

Could he ever have imagined being honored in New York during his playing days?

“Back then, no,” Big Papi said before breaking into a hearty laugh.

“Very thankfully and humbly I received the recognition as a recipient on behalf of them,” he said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press at his annual golf tournament. “It was an honor. The last thing you would think of is that happening, though.”

Ortiz’s nonprofit provides cardiac care services for children in the Dominican Republic and in New England who otherwise cannot afford it. Since it’s inception, it has helped over 16,000 children and provided lifesaving cardiac surgeries for over 1,500.

“They didn’t recognize how good I was as a player only, they recognized the good things I tried to accomplish as a human being, not as a baseball player,” he said.

Like playing in the big leagues, he knows being part of a foundation takes commitment not only from those it’s named after, but from a strong team.

“Foundations for celebrities, they disappear sooner than ever because I would say things get to be out of place,’’ he said. “I cannot run a foundation. You need a team, a professional team. You never hear: ‘Me, me, me.’ No, no, no. I’m one piece of what we’ve got going on here. Without them it would go on two years and disappear.”

Ortiz is a huge fan of the Boston Celtics and he’s very excited by their current playoff run. He knows soon he could be re-living a fun rivalry with former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, in the NBA finals.

“A-Rod knows what’s coming,’’ Ortiz said, breaking into a laugh. “We’re going to whoop ’em. I was very happy for him. That’s his thing right now. He’s so into it. He walked in as an owner and, I mean, when we get together, he’s very into it.”

The pair work together on a national baseball pregame and postgame TV show along with Rodriguez’s former teammate and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

“Those are my boys; 100% in,” Ortiz said of the Celtics. “That’s my thing. If I’m not watching baseball, I follow basketball, big time. Hopefully when the time comes the guys are going to continue doing their thing because I’m going to be cheering.”

As far as ending Boston’s drought 20 years ago, Ortiz recalled the moments he hit walk-offs in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS and how the legend of “Big Papi” started early in his career.

“I remember watching a clip of David Justice, a former baseball player saying that one at-bat can change momentum, can change people’s mentality, can change your career, can change how everything can be. … I know it was more than one at-bat, but one at-bat and it took off.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up