David Ortiz has his number (34) retired
ON THIS DATE (June 23, 2017) ... On a warm Friday evening, David Ortiz’s No. 34 was retired at Fenway Park, joining nine Red Sox legends whose numbers are untouchable. Ortiz’s number was on signs, jerseys, game programs, and videoboards.
Perhaps the memories of Ortiz’s 2016 season, one of the best of his career, were still fresh. Less than a year after retiring, his number has become cemented in Red Sox lore.
Fenway Park looked filled to capacity nearly 45 minutes before game time, with the jersey retirement ceremony set to begin. No. 34 was plastered on both on-deck circles and in center field. The three World Series trophies that Ortiz was so instrumental in bringing to Boston were put on display. Highlights of Ortiz’s greatest moments played on the videoboard in center field for about 15 minutes preceding the ceremony.
Former teammates Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, who began the ceremony, walked out of the dugout and onto the red carpet. Fans erupted even louder when Pedro Martinez was announced.
Ortiz strutted onto the red carpet in typical Big Papi fashion, sporting a sleek navy suit and swanky sunglasses. He slipped on his No. 34 white Red Sox jersey, and the crowd went wild. In his speech that lasted about 10 minutes, Ortiz showed the confidence, wit, light-heartedness, and sincerity that endeared him to so many.
On the visiting dugout side, Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols teared up as he watched his teenage friend take the microphone.
Martinez and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, two of Ortiz’s longstanding teammates, spoke about Ortiz before the game.
“You are not our teammate, you are our family, and it will be like that until the day we die,” Pedroia said. Ortiz then walked up to the microphone teary-eyed. “It was very touching, very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I was trying to hold my ground until I saw Pedroia. Me and [Pedroia] go way back. [Pedroia] is like my baby brother. I know what he said comes from the bottom of his heart. I couldn’t hold it any more.”
Ortiz would go on to thank his family, teammates, fans, and his beloved city of Boston. After speaking for about 10 minutes, Ortiz unsurprisingly walked off the field to “Papi” chants and a standing ovation.