When Boston Red Sox icon David Ortiz celebrated his 40th birthday at the end of 2015, he also announced he’d be “calling it” after the 2016 season. Though every professional athlete can, and usually does leave a legacy on some scale, in some way –– there has always been a lasting, special place for David “Big Papi” Ortiz in the hearts of Red Sox and baseball fans alike. His status as baseball player evolved –– he became a boisterous voice, often including family, pride, and determination in his message.
As a company with deep roots on Yawkey Way, we love to witness first-hand the infectious spirit an athlete can spread to the fans, team, and community. With Boston as our shared home, it’s easy to reflect on his legacy here during his last year on the field, but we also wanted to experience his impact outside of the city, and more importantly, his outlook on decades of achievement. ’47 sat down with the Red Sox icon and travelled to visit Santo Domingo –– capital of the Dominican Republic, the original home of David Ortiz and the place where his journey started.
In Big Papi’s hometown, baseball is everything. The beloved pastime represents a life-changing opportunity –– a source of hope and motivation for aspiring young players, thanks to alum like Ortiz, who showed a nation how dedication can get you a spot in the big leagues. But the real dream Ortiz realized through baseball is the ability to take care of his family and community. His talent for the sport simply gave him the platform.
Ortiz’s path to major league success was far from certain. After being released by the Minnesota Twins in 2002, Ortiz would have to find his way back into the game. Feeling energized, instead of discouraged by the challenge, he earned a shot with the Red Sox the following year. In his fourteen years on the team, he helped break the 86-year curse of Bambino, won three championship rings and played in nine All-Star games –– amongst countless other clutch moments and highlights.
Beyond the stats, something that makes Big Papi so lovable is the impression that he is always playing for more than himself. Reflecting on his own story, the star encourages a new generation to appreciate the human side of the game as much as he does. As his farewell tour continues, ’47 thanks Big Papi for being a symbol of community, pride, and passion in Boston, our home.