By COURTNEY HART
This past weekend was special for any Red Sox fan as it was the last time that legendary player, David Ortiz, would play in the Tampa Bay Area.
Walking into Tropicana Field stadium, located in St. Petersburg, Red Sox fans easily outnumbered the native Rays’ following.
College students who grew up watching Ortiz play for the Red Sox lined up near the dugout for a chance to get the last autograph or picture with Big Papi.
“It was great to see a childhood role model finish out strong for my last chance to see him play in person,” UT sophomore and cyber security major Austin Urfer said. “Papi is one of the greats!”
Ortiz took his first turn at bat during the first inning. He walked onto the field with a thunderous applaud from the crowd.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer threw Ortiz a pitch that was hit out of the park with a two-run homer. This caused them to clinch the win for the Sox last Friday night as the team’s only two runs scored.
The two-run homer Ortiz hit in the first inning was the main excitement of the night. This was Ortiz’s 37th home run of the season, and added to his RBI total to 123. Ortiz is currently ranked third in the majors in RBIs, and fourth in batting average. Quite impressive for a player who is ready to retire.
The next time Ortiz was up, he singled to left, but was thrown out at second base trying to stretch his hit into a double. His last time at bat there was hope and excitement within the crowd as he hit the ball hard, but it was caught by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.
“Seeing Ortiz play in some of his last games was an honor,” UT junior and finance major Steve Ambrosino said. “It was an honor to see a legend play in one of his last games, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade away.”
Students and fans came from all over to have the opportunity to see Ortiz play one last time.
“For only being able to witness one game this season as a diehard Red Sox fan, and see him hit a homer is more than I could ask for,” said Mckuen Higgs, who was on his requested two week leave from the Navy.
Even Rays fans are unable to deny how legendary Ortiz has been in the game of baseball.
“Despite being a lifelong Rays fan, it was pretty neat to see David continue his historic last season,” USF senior Thomas Reese said. “Definitely one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.”
The end of the game concluded in a 2-1 win Friday night for the Red Sox and added a ninth straight win to their record.
With only a handful of games left for Ortiz to play, any Red Sox fan who has the opportunity to see Ortiz in one of his last games will have a memorable experience.
Courtney Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org