Ortiz Farewell Fenway

Ortiz Farewell Fenway
David Ortiz Farewell Fenway Park 10/02/16 Photo Framed - 14x11

The Red Sox showered their iconic designated hitter with gifts, brought back 24 of his former teammates from the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series-winning teams and announced they will retire his No. 34 early next season, making him the first player to have his uniform number taken out of circulation by the Red Sox before he is elected to the Hall of Fame.

Ortiz was feted in an emotional 40-minute pregame ceremony at Fenway Park that included Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and even Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina and concluded with Big Papi going down on one knee and doffing his cap to salute the fans.

Before the festivities, Red Sox manager John Farrell said, "there may be no more important player ever in this organization," and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Ortiz "transformational," noting that he "changed the course of this franchise" and "changed the city," a reference to the slugger's impassioned and expletive-laced speech in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.

"We have great memories and there's still great memories to be made in the next few weeks, but he's a legend and he's going to be missed by all of us," Walsh said. "What he's done off the field is almost as big as the accomplishments on the field. What he's done with his foundation and really lifting the city up following the Marathon bombing, everyone climbed on his back and he just got the city back on track."

As much as anything -- including his 540 career home runs -- that will be Ortiz's legacy in Boston. He represents the only common denominator between the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series champions, but more than that, he came to symbolize the city since his arrival in 2003.

Ortiz was given a haul of gifts that included the creation of a fellowship program to promote diversity in front offices across MLB. Baker presented him with a sign for the "David Ortiz Bridge," a renamed span of Brookline Avenue that crosses over the Massachusetts Turnpike, while Walsh gave him a street sign for "David Ortiz Drive," a newly named section of road near Fenway Park.

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