David Ortiz says he loves New York Yankees fans for bringing the best out of him despite a campaign by some Bronx Bombers followers to moon him this week.
“Our rivalry with the Yankees made me who I am,” the retiring slugger writes at the Players’ Tribune. “The intensity of that competition is what I’m gonna miss the most when I’m done. I could wake up in the morning and my body could be feeling like s—, but as soon as the bus pulls up to Yankee Stadium and I see that white fence on the upper deck, I’m like, It’s on.”
Ortiz played an instrumental Yankee-killing role in Boston’s historic comeback against New York down 0-3 in the 2004 ALCS. He hit a game-winning home run in the tenth in Game Four and then won Game Five for the Red Sox with a walk-off single. He hit three homers in the series and received Most Valuable Players honors. Only Ted Williams hit more home runs against the Yankees among Red Sox players than David Ortiz.
“When I’m standing in the on-deck circle and I hear all those boos,” the designated hitter describes of his Yankee Stadium experience. “I get this feeling I can’t even describe. I’m so focused. My adrenaline goes through the roof. I’m totally locked in. The intensity is just not the same against another team.”
The Sox travel to New York to start a three-game series against the Yankees tonight. The games mark Ortiz’s last against a rival he respects. Rather than limping off the field a shell of his younger self, the designated hitter boasts 37 home runs, a .321 batting average, and 124 RBI this season to lead the Red Sox in all of the big three offensive categories.
He plans on continuing his Yankee-killing ways. Ortiz warns that “when I hear you boo me, I’m gonna try to hit the ball over that white fence, all the way to the mother******* choo choo train.”
Citing Boston’s tolerance of beard’s and the hostility to them in the Bronx, Ortiz notes that he was made to wear a “B” on his cap. Big Papi takes pride in Red Sox caps gaining popularity in his native Dominican Republic, which once saw Yankees caps atop most hat-wearing heads.
“Some players are born to be Yankees,” he maintains, “you know what I’m saying? I was born to play against the Yankees.”