David Ortiz Wants a Standing Ovation from Yankees Fans This Season
When Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter played their final games at Fenway Park, Red Sox fans gave them rousing standing ovations. David Ortiz says he wants to receive the same treatment when he steps onto the field at Yankee Stadium for the final time this season.
In an interview with the New York Post Tuesday, Ortiz, who’s announced he’s retiring at the end of the 2016 campaign, said he would like nothing more than to hear a warm reception from the fan base he’s tormented for the last 13 years.
“You know what I want most of all?’’ Ortiz said. “I would love it if the fans at Yankee Stadium gave me a standing ovation.’’
Ortiz kept the Red Sox alive in the 2004 American League Championship Series, leading them to their historic 3-0 comeback. He belted a walk-off home run in Game 4 and drove in the game-winning run the following night to send the series back to the Bronx. His heroics shifted the balance of the rivalry: The Red Sox have won three World Series since then and the Yanks have only been victorious in the Fall Classic once.
Ortiz has pulverized the Yankees throughout his 19-year career, hitting .306 against the Bronx Bombers with a whopping 47 home runs in 220 games played (not counting the playoffs). With those kinds of numbers, it seems doubtful that Yankees fans would pay tribute to Big Papi when he makes his final regular-season visit to New York in September. But it’s important to keep the precedent in mind here.
When Rivera appeared at Fenway for the last time in 2013, the Red Sox put on an elaborate, if not outright bizarre pregame ceremony to honor him. In addition to receiving a number of gifts—including a green No. 42 placard that was hung on the Green Monster whenever Rivera made an appearance out of the bullpen—the Sox played highlights from Rivera’s blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
“Did you think they rubbed in 2004 a little bit too much?” an anonymous Yankees official asked at the time.
There was no ribbing during Jeter’s Fenway farewell the following season, which was ripe with suffocating pageantry. The Red Sox brought out Boston sports greats Bobby Orr, Paul Pierce, and Troy Brown to bid goodbye to the Yankees’ captain and even trotted out a fake Aretha Franklin to serenade Jeter with song.
It’s unlikely the Yankees will reciprocate with a similarly excessive ceremony to honor Ortiz, nor should they. But Red Sox fans were able to put their animosity against Rivera and Jeter aside when they went through their retirement tours. It’s not unfair for Ortiz to ask for similar treatment.