David Ortiz bracing for boos at farewell, still appreciates Yankees fans

ByScott Lauber ESPN logo
Sunday, September 18, 2016

BOSTON -- Like every other team the Red Sox have played this season, the Yankees will recognize David Ortiz before his final regular-season game against them.

Surely, though, the ceremony in the Bronx on Sept. 29 will be different from all the others.

"I am definitely getting booed. I am ready for that," Ortiz said before Friday's 6-5 win over the Yankees at Fenway Park. "When I get booed at Yankee Stadium, it's not like it's new to me, you know what I'm saying? But I'm always going to respect Yankee fans."

Ortiz has been the ultimate Yankee tormenter during his 20-year career, and it goes beyond the mere fact that he has hit 53 home runs against them, tied with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg for fourth most all time. Big Papi's 12th-inning, two-run homer in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series started the greatest postseason comeback in baseball history, and since then, the clutch hits have kept on coming against the Red Sox's biggest rival.

The Yankees' plans for Ortiz's farewell aren't known. In 2013, the Red Sox "honored" Mariano Rivera by highlighting one of the worst moments of his career:Dave Roberts' steal of second base in what turned out to be a blown save in the aforementioned Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. A year later, the Red Sox played it straight in paying tribute to Derek Jeter.

"Mariano was so successful against everybody. If you can pick out one bad moment out of a thousand moments, who cares?" Ortiz said. "They probably just did it to make us feel good about ourselves."

The Yankees could always mention the excavation of a replica No. 34 Ortiz jersey that was buried by a Red Sox fan in an attempt to hex the team during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in 2008. Or they could merely acknowledge Ortiz's successful career, much of which came at their expense.

"Yankee fans, believe it or not, are the only fans that come to me straight-up and tell me, 'Hey, I'm a Yankee fan, but I respect you.' And I respect that," Ortiz said. "Whenever I go to New York, and I have to take time taking pictures and signing autographs for the Yankee fans, I don't mind because baseball is a big family, and it's not all about who you are a fanatic about. Part of you wants to be missed by your rival, right?

"You don't get to be respected just because. You've got to earn that, just like Jeter did, just like Mariano did. It's that one part of us that, the time and the history, everything behind that's brought this to the table. I really appreciate the time [the Yankees] are taking to do this."