BOSTON -- A baseball season had just ended at Fenway Park on Monday night, but the fans who packed the seats turned their attention to making sure they got one more glimpse of the slugger who had thrilled them since his arrival in 2003.David Ortiz had gone into the clubhouse
BOSTON -- A baseball season had just ended at Fenway Park on Monday night, but the fans who packed the seats turned their attention to making sure they got one more glimpse of the slugger who had thrilled them since his arrival in 2003.
David Ortiz had gone into the clubhouse with his teammates after the Red Sox were swept out of the American League Division Series by the Indians in a 4-3 loss in Game 3.
:: ALDS: Red Sox vs. Indians coverage ::
As manager John Farrell thanked his team inside the clubhouse, and the retiring icon Ortiz gave his teammates some words of inspiration, the crowd at Fenway Park stayed in their seats and roared with passion.
They would not be denied. For nearly 10 minutes, their roars shifted from "Pa-pi! Pa-pi" to "Thank you, Pa-pi!" and then, "We're not leaving."
Made aware of the situation by the PR staff, Ortiz lit up the Fenway faithful one last time by coming up through the dugout steps and back out to the field.
As the theme song from "The Natural" played from the public address system, Ortiz stood on the pitcher's mound of all places and tipped his hat to the fans. He pounded his chest, took in the roars, and tried to hold back tears. Ortiz dabbed at his eyes as he walked back to the clubhouse after a stint of roughly four minutes on the field. It was Big Papi's grand goodbye.
• Emotional scene at Fenway for Big Papi's final game
"When I walked to the mound, I realized that it was over," said Ortiz. "It was pretty much probably the last time as a player walking in front of a crowd. And the emotion came back out again."
In Ortiz's final plate appearance, in the bottom of the eighth inning against Indians closer Cody Allen, he walked. That kept a rally alive for Boston. And when Ortiz moved to second on Hanley Ramirez's RBI single to bring the Red Sox within one, Marco Hernandez came out to pinch-run for him.
Ortiz pounded Hernandez's helmet as he gave him words of encouragement, implored the Fenway faithful to get on their feet and then headed off into the dugout to root, root, root for the home team.
That's how Big Papi went out Monday night -- defiant and hopeful but, ultimately, unsuccessful.
Boston threatened again in the ninth, but fell short.
"I was cheering so bad. Once I got out of the game I was screaming at my team to put me back in it," said Ortiz. "Make me wear this uniform one more day. Because I wasn't ready to be over with the playoffs."
• David Ortiz's postgame interview transcript
The bitterness that usually accompanies a team getting bounced from the postseason seemed secondary to the finality of Ortiz's career, which took off when he arrived in Boston.
Through 14 seasons of elite raking, Ortiz helped lead the Red Sox to their first three World Series championships since 1918. He delivered clutch hit after clutch hit, all the while serving as a pillar in the community through good times and bad.
The abrupt end left a lot for Ortiz to process.
"The game, the game that I love, the game that made me be who I am, the game that I look forward to getting better [at] every day," said Ortiz, "it's something that I'm definitely going to carry the rest of my life. And those moments, they're always going to be special. They're always going to stay with you."
Though another World Series championship could have been a cherry on top of the sundae, Ortiz knows that few have experienced the thrills he has through the years.
"And what made me happy and proud about walking home the way I am right now is that as long as I play in front of these fans, I never took anything for granted," Ortiz said. "I give everything I have. I tried to do something special while I played. And the fans respect that. The fans love that. The fans, they live through it. And that's all that matters to me."
On his drive to Fenway on Monday, Ortiz did something he had never done before. He took two laps around the ballpark in his car before finally heading to work.
"You know what, a couple of days ago, somebody asked me if I ever thought about this could be my last game," said Ortiz. "And I wasn't thinking about it, but it kind of stayed in my head because it's reality. It's something that could happen, and it happened."
In his final game, Ortiz went 0-for-1 with two walks and a sacrifice fly.
"We all love David," said Dustin Pedroia. "He's family to us. He's helped us in so many ways. It's difficult. We wanted to win the World Series and send him out the way we all wanted to. But that didn't happen."
Ortiz's career ended against Indians manager Terry Francona, the skipper for whom Papi won two of his three championships.
"That was an honor to be on the field for his last game," said Francona. "I think you can see by the way the fans reacted, their outpouring of affection for him -- that was an honor."
Ortiz goes out as one of the most productive sluggers in history. He is 10th on the all-time list in doubles, 17th in homers and tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for eighth in extra-base hits.
Big Papi is in the top five in most categories on Boston's all-time list. He is third in RBIs for the club, behind only Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Only Williams hit more homers for the Red Sox than the 483 by Ortiz.
Ortiz's final season was not just a celebration of his historic career -- with sendoff ceremonies at every opposing park -- but also a continuation of his greatness. It was perhaps the best season ever for a 40-year-old.
In 151 games, Ortiz slashed .315/.401/.620 with 48 doubles, 38 homers and 127 RBIs.
The Red Sox signed Ortiz almost as an after-thought in January 2003, after he had been released by the Minnesota Twins. The move turned out to be one of the most impactful transactions in history.
"I'm a guy that came out of the Dominican one day when I had just turned 17 years old, and all I wanted to do was have fun at what I do," said Ortiz. "Because you kind of walk into this career, there's a lot of expectation, but you don't know any of them when you are that age. The memories and other things that I can share with you guys, you guys already know most of them. And I'm happy and proud of going home the way I am right now."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.