Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz threw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston on Monday evening, his first return to the park since being shot in the Dominican Republic in June.
Ortiz, 43, was released from the hospital in July to finish his rehabilitation at home, reportedly monitored by a his personal doctor and some nurses. Though this is Ortiz's first major appearance since the shooting, the former player has posted photos of himself in public to social media.
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The three-time World Series winner, known affectionately as "Big Papi," was met with thunderous applause from fans at Fenway. Ortiz spoke briefly before the Red Sox played the New York Yankees, where he expressed gratitude for the support and prayers from baseball community.
"First of all, I want to thank God for giving me a second opportunity in my life to be able to be here with all of you," Ortiz said on the field. "I want to thank the Red Sox, my real family. They have always been there for me, supporting me. They were aware of what happened to me and they were the first ones there supporting me."
A 20-year veteran of Major League Baseball, a career he spent at first base or as the designated hitter with the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox, Ortiz retired from the league in 2016.
Ortiz was shot on June 9 at the Dial Bar and Lounge where he had gone to with friends. Dominican authorities said they believe Ortiz happened to get caught in the gunfire when the shooter targeted Sixto David Fernández, who happened to share the table with Ortiz.
The Red Sox organization sent a plane to Santa Domingo to return Ortiz to the U.S. after he was shot, where he underwent the majority of his medical care. Ortiz said in a statement in late July that he'd be back soon.
“I am feeling good, but know I need to do my rehab just like I did when I was recovering from injuries playing baseball," Ortiz said at the time.