NEW YORK -- The Yankees put the heat of their long-standing rivalry with the Red Sox aside for a few minutes on Thursday night with a thoughtful ceremony to honor David Ortiz, who played his 117th and final game in the Bronx.Ortiz's former teammate and current Yankees center fielder Jacoby
NEW YORK -- The Yankees put the heat of their long-standing rivalry with the Red Sox aside for a few minutes on Thursday night with a thoughtful ceremony to honor David Ortiz, who played his 117th and final game in the Bronx.
Ortiz's former teammate and current Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury came on to the field along with retired pitcher David Cone to present the slugger with a custom-created leather-bound book before the Red Sox's 5-1 loss.
The contents consisted of handwritten letters to Ortiz from current and former Yankees greats.
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"That blew my mind," said Ortiz. "Some handwritten notes in there from some of my ex-teammates and guys I competed against for a long time. It was super nice."
One of those greats was retired closer Mariano Rivera, and he came out to present Big Papi with his second gift from the Yankees, a commissioned oil painting in which Ortiz was illustrated doffing his helmet at Yankee Stadium.
Ortiz created a similar image a few moments later, when he tipped his cap to the fans at the conclusion of the ceremony.
When Rivera came out, Ortiz's face lit up, and the two greats embraced.
"Man, Mariano, he knows he's one of my idols," said Ortiz. "Mariano and me have a great relationship. We have the same agent and I've known Mariano for a long time and I have so much respect for Mariano. Having him in this ceremony was very special to me."
Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Joe Girardi, Johnny Damon and Ellsbury were some of the others who wrote tributes for Ortiz's unique book.
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"I thought tonight, the gift that he received, that leather-bound notebook might be the most meaningful gift that we've seen him receive on this entire year on this tour," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The number of personal notes, those are meaningful, and that took a lot of coordination and time and effort by a number of people. It was really a touch of class from a really good and great organization."
Ortiz was joined for the ceremony by his wife, Tiffany, son, D'Angelo, and daughter, Alex. Tiffany and Alex Ortiz received flowers from the Yankees.
It was the completion of Ortiz's final regular-season road trip, in which he was honored at every ballpark he played at this season.
As the ceremony concluded, the song "Sweet Caroline," the official anthem during the eighth inning of every game at Fenway Park, was played on the Yankee Stadium sound system.
After striking out in the second inning, Ortiz worked a walk off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Upon reaching first base, he exited to a standing ovation when Brock Holt entered as a pinch-runner.
"Impressive," said Ortiz. "There were no boos out there. It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving."
Upcoming will be a weekend of love and recognition at Fenway Park, where Ortiz will play his final three regular-season home games against the Blue Jays.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.