Takeaways from David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame speech

Red Sox

“When you believe in someone, you can change their world.”

Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, speaks during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. AP Photo/John Minchillo

David Ortiz knows he was lucky enough to be able to play baseball.

The former Red Sox superstar opened his remarks during his official induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday by thanking God for the opportunity to “walk this path” and referenced his God-given abilities to several times in his 20-minute speech. .

But Ortiz also knows something else: he couldn’t have done this on his own. To become a Hall of Famer, Ortiz needed a lot of things to succeed, and more importantly, he needed a lot of people to believe in him.

He needed his mother and his father. Ortiz thanked the two in Spanish, saying that every time he has a drink he looks up at the sky dedicating everything to his mother who tragically died in a car accident in 2002. He thanked his father for focusing about education, sacrificing himself so his children would have a better life, and buying Ortiz his first bat, glove and ball.

“Mom was everything to me,” Ortiz said in Spanish. “I love you dad – you already know that. I love you, mom, wherever God has you.

He thanked several managers, including Grady Little who kicked him out after he made his spring training debut against the Twins.

“‘I don’t want you here to move them, I want you to be here to bring them,'” Ortiz Little recounted as he said. “The rest is history.”

Ortiz needed the Twins, who reminded him to work hard and never pass up an opportunity when they sent him to the Red Sox. He needed Kirby Puckett’s leadership and guidance — so much so that when he arrived in Boston, he donned the late Puckett’s No. 34.

Ortiz needed the Red Sox ownership group and managers Terry Francona and John Ferrell. He needed his teammates – “los chicos locos” as Ortiz called them. He needed the city of Boston.

Somewhere along the line, while navigating a wildly successful career, Ortiz learned a deeply valuable lesson: You can help a person become great by deeply and wholeheartedly believing in them.

“If my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world,” Ortiz said. “You can change their future, just like so many people who believed in me. To everyone who believed in me, from my family to coaches to teammates and fans, know that I couldn’t have done this without you.

“My Hall of Fame plaque represents each of you, and I will thank you for the rest of my life.”

More takeaways

  • Ortiz spoke extensively in Spanish, speaking directly to people in the Dominican Republic, his home country. He thanked his fans back home who accepted him as “a favorite son”, adding that he appreciated their music, food, good vibes, happiness and “fighting spirit”. He also thanked Dominican President Luis Abinader, who appears to have sent a delegation to the event.
  • Ortiz also thanked his American fans and offered an invitation to visit his home country.

    “It’s a special place where we have a lot of good, happy people, beautiful beaches you can go to when it’s freezing here,” Ortiz said with a smile. “Then introduce yourself in Dominican.”

  • Ortiz sat directly in front of Pedro Martinez. When he took the stage, the crowd gave him such a long ovation that he stood up and waved, then turned to Martinez and did his home run celebration by pointing toward the sky.

    During his speech, Ortiz specifically singled out “mi compadre Pedro” as someone who helped him through his early years in Boston.

    “I have to thank him because to me he’s been a brother, an advisor, a lawyer, he’s even a plumber to me,” Ortiz said with a chuckle in Spanish, before switching back to English to say “I can talk about Pedro all day.”

  • Ortiz saved Boston near the end of his speech, noting that it’s been almost 20 years since his first day in the city.

    “When I think of Boston, I definitely think of 2004, 2007 and of course 2013 after the city was rocked by the marathon bombing,” Ortiz said. “I’ve never seen a community bounce back and come together like Boston. … I also think of the last game I played. Standing on the grounds of Fenway Park, I felt like the whole New England town and every single one of you surrounded me and showed me all of your love.

  • Ortiz’s 21-year-old daughter Alex Veda sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem before the speeches. Veda is a rising senior at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • MLB TV anchors who were on the show were also impressed with Ortiz’s star power. Greg Amsinger marveled at Ortiz’s reception as he took the stage.

    “The crowd is so big and full of David Ortiz fans,” added Harold Reynolds. “No disrespect to the other guys, but listen to what’s going on behind us. He hasn’t even started talking yet.

    Amsinger noted with amusement that even Reynolds pulled out his phone and recorded Ortiz’s reaction.

    “You have to seize the moment, Greg,” Reynolds replied.


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