Prior to making the final trip to New York in his storied career, David Ortiz thanks Yankees fans for making him the player he is today.
There is no love lost between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, but David Ortiz still has some love for his team’s most bitter rival.
Not a lot of love, but a little bit.
Ortiz reflected on the heated rivalry in an open letter on the Player’s Tribune website, thanking Yankees fans for “bringing the best” out of him. The intensity of the rivalry made him into the player he is today, while the jeers raining down on him from the crowds at Yankee Stadium only served to fuel him.
“The intensity of that competition is what I’m gonna miss most when I’m done,” wrote Ortiz. “I could wake up in the morning and my body could be feeling like s—, but as soon as the bus pulls up to Yankee Stadium and I see that white fence on the upper deck, I’m like, It’s on.”
A native of the Dominican Republic, Ortiz talked about growing up in his home country where the Yankees were the only team that was regularly televised. He used to dream about going to New York and the Yankees were a symbol of that city in the eyes of a country filled with baseball enthusiasts.
Thanks to players like Ortiz, the Red Sox are now on their radar.
It’s clear that he has great respect for former Yankee greats Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but he’s glad that he landed on the Red Sox side of the rivalry. Ortiz is proud to consider himself a Bostonian and firmly believes that his personality is better suited for this franchise than the team that plays in the Bronx.
“The Red Sox let me be me,” explains Ortiz. “You see my beard? The Yankees wouldn’t let me have that beard. I’d be shaving twice a day. But it goes beyond that. The Red Sox let me say what I feel. They let me be myself.”
An example of Ortiz being allowed the freedom to say what’s on his mind was on display during the infamous speech he made at Fenway Park in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Ortiz’s heartfelt words proved to be a rallying cry for the team and the city, leading the Boston Strong mantra that helped band that team together for a World Series run. It was an emotional moment that will forever be cemented in the memories of Red Sox fans, but it’s hard to imagine anything like that happening if he was wearing pinstripes.
Do you think the Yankees ever would have allowed Jeter to drop an F-bomb in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd? Didn’t think so.
Ortiz came to the Red Sox in 2003 as the rivalry with the Yankees was beginning to boil. The Red Sox were eliminated in the postseason that year in devastating fashion by the Yankees, but Boston would be back with a vengeance the following year. Ortiz found himself at the center of a historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS, delivering a number of clutch hits to pull the Red Sox back from the brink of elimination, turning him into as much of an icon in Boston as he was a villain in New York.
After spending a significant portion of his career focused on beating the Yankees, Ortiz can now look back and realize he wouldn’t be where he is today without this rivalry. No matter how much bad blood there may be between the two franchises, there will always be a certain level of respect.
He may respect them, but he won’t hold back from trying to beat them. When Ortiz steps to the plate at Yankee Stadium he wants nothing more than to hit another mammoth blast over that white fence, “all the way to the choo choo train.”
Some players were born to be Yankees. David Ortiz was born to play against them.