Dominican baseball legend David Ortiz is the 12th and last player to don No. 34 for the Red Sox.
This year Ortiz goes for his fourth World Series title and next year his No. 34 will hang from the Fenway facade among the team's nine retired numbers.
During a pregame ceremony Sunday attended by teammates from Ortiz's three World Series championships and Red Sox greats like Carl Yastrzemski the ballclub honored the soon-to-retire slugger by draping a Dominican flag over the Green Monster and bringing out his father — Big Papi's real Papi — to join him on the diamond.
Ortiz broke into tears when he mentioned his late mother before gathering himself to thank his teammates and members of the organization from owner John Henry to clubhouse attendant Pookie Jackson. He also thanked the fans — dropping to one knee and tipping his cap to the crowd — along with the media, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, who were both in attendance.
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"He changed the Red Sox," Manfred said before the game. "He was a key part of the amazing three wins here. It changed the course of the franchise. "But I also think that he changed the city. He became a symbol of the strength of the city and will always be remembered for that."
Ortiz announced in November on his 40th birthday that this would be his final year, setting up a season-long farewell tour around the major leagues. As the home team, the Red Sox get to go last.
The Green Monster scoreboard read: "Thanks, Big Papi." Banners hung from the light stanchions above. And Ortiz's image was mowed into the center-field grass, as it has been for the entire season-ending series against the Blue Jays.
Fans in the right-field bleachers held up cards that formed Ortiz's No. 34 during the ceremony. During the game, the cards revealed the message: "Thanks, Papi."
And of course there were the three World Series championship banners behind home plate, all thanks in part to Ortiz. During the ceremony, Mike Lowell, Pedro Martinez and Jonny Gomes carried out the World Series trophies.
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Mary J. Blige sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," as she did before Game 1 of the 2013 Series. The Red Sox also played the Dominican national anthem in Ortiz's honor, and Medina threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the bridge over the MassPike that leads from Kenmore Square to Fenway Park would be renamed in Ortiz's honor; Mayor Marty Walsh said the city would do the same for a street that leads from the ballpark to another train station.
The Red Sox Foundation and the team's owners have pledged $1 million to the David Ortiz Children's Fund. He was also given a gold-plated bat.
The governor said he was surprised to find that there was a bridge left in the state that hadn't already been named for someone — and it was right next to the ballpark. It was a natural to dub it "Big Papi David Ortiz Bridge."
Walsh said the weekend was bittersweet. "We have great memories," he said, "and there are still great memories to be made."
The Red Sox begin the playoffs on Thursday in Cleveland.