The Boston crowd waited and waited for Big Papi to do something, well, big on Monday night.
With the Red Sox trailing Cleveland 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth, David Ortiz strode to the plate, runner at first, representing the tying run.
Big Papi walked.
Although he took his base, Ortiz would be replaced by a pinch-runner upon reaching second after Hanley Ramirez singled in a run to make it a one-run game.
Ortiz, 40, watched the rest of his final major-league game from the dugout.
By virtue of Cleveland’s eventual 4-3 victory and the Indians’ three-game sweep of the Red Sox in the opening round of the American League playoffs, Ortiz’s storied career ended Monday night.
Despite the huge numbers Ortiz put up this season, he continued to say it would be his last.
The final numbers in his final season: 38 home runs, 127 RBI, 48 doubles and 79 runs scored.
Not too shabby.
As the Indians celebrated their victory in the tiny visitors’ locker room at Fenway Park, Ortiz took to the field. With tears in his eyes, Ortiz waved to the crowd first from outside the dugout. Surrounded by cameras, Big Papi strode to the mound where he stood atop the rubber and continued to soak in the moment.
In previous celebrations of his career, Ortiz knew there was more baseball to be played. On Monday night, he knew the reality of the situation.
“I was going to continue playing baseball,” Ortiz said afterward, “I know there was more games to go. But tonight when I walk to the mound I realize that — I realize that it was going to be — it was over. It was pretty much probably the last time as a player walk in front of a crowd. And the emotion came back out again.”
Fans at Fenway, stunned by their team’s failure to push across one more run in the ninth, chanted his name as they had for years.
Ortiz said he was touched by the outpouring of love from his fans at Fenway.
“The game, the game that I love, the game that made me be who I am. The game that I look forward to get better every day is something that I'm definitely going to carry the rest of my life,” Ortiz said.
“And those moments, they always going to be special. They always going to stay with you.
“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 take anything for granted. I give everything I have. Do something special while I play. And the fans respect that. The fans love that. The fans, they live through it. And that's all that matters to me.
“Everywhere I go, everywhere I bump into our fans, it doesn't matter if you bump into two of them or you bump into a thousand of them, they show the same love. And that's why I get better, that's why I get the opportunity to have the career I had.”
Ortiz also reflected on the loss of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, saying that’s a memory of this season he will not soon forget.
“I went through like three different times where emotions popped,” he said. “But they're different. First one this year was when we heard the bad news about my friend Jose Fernandez, something that impact the whole world, and you never expect anything like that to happen. And when it happens you start thinking, and your mind go all over the place. And that's something that it was a shock. Nobody was expecting anything like that to happen to such a young, talented player, good kid.”