David Ortiz said his farewells to his teammates, and the Red Sox fans, Monday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
Some were brought to tears. Other just chose to reflect.
But what was evident following the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Indians Monday night was that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill reaction to a season-ending defeat. Almost as impactful as the end of the the Sox’ season, was the realization that it was the end of David Ortiz’s career.
“I haven’t cried after a baseball game since I was in Little League probably, but tonight was different,” said the Red Sox’ starting pitcher for their Game 3 American League Division Series game, Clay Buchholz. “I’ve been around him my whole career, and knowing how much he loves the game and how much he would be around the game. If it was a possibility, he would be here. But I think his decision is made and that’s tough to swallow. What a great guy.”
Ortiz said his farewells after the game, first to his teammates in an impromptu post-game meeting, and then to a Fenway Park crowd that was still almost at capacity well after the final pitch.
The moment wasn’t lost on anyone in attendance.
“It’s was one of the coolest things,” said Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz. “You think about getting traded over here and I get to be part of this, and get to watch one of the best there is. It was just really cool to see all that unfold. I did an interview at the All-Star Game and they were asking guys, ‘What has Big Papi done for baseball?’ At the time I had no idea I was coming here. Now, I have a whole different perspective, being here for the last few months.
“It’s one thing to hear people say that stuff, but it’s another thing to be a part of it. He’s great. He’s probably the greatest teammate ever, there ever was. Definitely the best one I’ve ever had. I feel honored to be part of that, to see who he is as a person and a baseball player.”
“Next year when we come to the field at spring training, when we don’t see him, that’s when it’s going to sink in,” added Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. “We’re not going to see him around as often and in the clubhouse. He had a great year as he’s done his whole career. Without him we wouldn’t have been able to make the postseason.”
And now, Dustin Pedroia is left taking the title as longest tenure Red Sox. But moments after the loss, it became clear that life without Ortiz might take a while for Pedroia get his head around.
“Your mind tells you he’ll be here when the game ends and be here tomorrow. It’s got to end some way,” the second baseman said. “But this is definitely not how we expected it to. It’s going to be tough not having him around.”