Bronx Cheers For Big Papi

By RONALD BLUM   AP Baseball Writer
 NEW YORK (AP) _ Playing in the Bronx one last time, Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was given a 30-second standing ovation at Yankee Stadium instead of the usual boos.

There were many fans in Red Sox colors in Thursday night’s crowd, which chanted his nickname “Pa-pi! Pa-pi!” Only a smattering of booing could be heard.

Ortiz struck out in the second inning against CC Sabathia, dropping to 0 for 10 in the three-game series and hitless in his last 14 at-bats against the Yankees. Ortiz walked in the fourth and was replaced by pinch runner Brock Holt, then received another ovation as he jogged to the Red Sox dugout. Ortiz pointed to the Yankees dugout in thanks as he headed to the third base side.

Hitting .315 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs, the 40-year-old designated hitter is having among the greatest final seasons in big league history.

During a pregame ceremony that lasted about 5 minutes, Ortiz was presented an oil painting of himself and a leather-bound book with handwritten letters from current and former Yankees. The Red Sox had honored a pair of Yankees greats before their Fenway Park finales, Mariano Rivera in 2013 and Derek Jeter the following year.

“I know he’s caused a lot of heartache to us, but I’m sure the Red Sox fans would say that Jeter and Mo caused a lot of heartache, as well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said earlier. “I know at times it becomes a bitter rivalry, but this guy has done a lot of special things in the game and he’s meant a ton to that organization. He’s meant a ton to the city of Boston.”

Ortiz hit 53 regular-season homers against the Yankees, all but one with Boston, tied with Hank Greenberg for fourth behind Jimmie Foxx (70), Ted Williams (62) and Manny Ramirez (55). His 31 homers at the old and new ballpark in the Bronx tied Mickey Vernon for second-most among visiting players, one ahead of Williams and one behind Goose Goslin.

Accompanied by wife Tiffany, daughter Alexandra and son D’Angelo, Ortiz was given the book by retired Yankees pitcher David Cone and current New York outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, a former Boston teammate.

Rivera came out and exchanged a hug with Ortiz, then helped him unveil the Justyn Farano painting, which depicts Ortiz standing at the plate and tipping his cap to the Yankee Stadium crowd.

Ortiz waved his hat to the crowd, which stood and applauded during the just-over-5-minute ceremony. As Ortiz left the field, the sound system played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” a Red Sox fan favorite.

When the ceremony began, Yankee Stadium public address announcer Paul Olden inadvertently told the crowd 2017 marks Ortiz’s final season before listing many of his accomplishments.

Ortiz wore yellow New Balance spikes with a black-and-white checkered N on the logo, evoking a New York City taxi.

Boston was to head home for a three-game series against Toronto this weekend that ends the regular season. Ortiz will be honored throughout, and the Red Sox then will have three days off before their AL Division Series opener.

“It’s a weekend of celebration well deserved,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “and he’ll have time to recover.”


(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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