Rivera was a guest at Ortiz’s party here on Saturday night, as was another former Yankee rival, his Fox Sports colleague Alex Rodriguez. Several of Ortiz’s former teammates also came to town, including Johnny Damon, LaTroy Hawkins, Mike Lowell, Trot Nixon, Dustin Pedroia, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Youkilis and Pedro Martinez, a fellow Hall of Famer from the Dominican Republic.
Many fans waved Dominican flags for Ortiz, who pitched for his homeland in his speech — “We have a lot of good and happy people, beautiful beaches where you guys can go when you are freezing here,” he said. Ortiz’s daughter, Alex, sang the United States’ national anthem before the ceremony, and Ortiz spoke in his speech about his mother, Angela Rosa, who died in 2002.
“Going through this speech and putting it together, I cried a lot, to be honest with you, even this morning, every time I touched base about my mom,” Ortiz said. “It just got to the point, repeating over and over and over, it kind of cured it a little.”
For Ortiz, the honor was exquisitely timed. He was shot in the back in the Dominican Republic in 2019, and it is chilling to think of how close he came to missing his own ceremony. Instead, he is healthy and strong — the full Big Papi on the biggest day of all.
“Thank God I’m good to go, I don’t have any injuries, I’m back to normal,” Ortiz said later. “I always appreciate that and thank God for everything.”