BOSTON (CBS) – Over the years, Boston sports fans have been blessed with many great athletes to root for. Consider the likes of great Bruins from Bobby Orr to Ray Bourque, immortal Celtics from Bill Russell to Larry Bird, classic Patriots from Ron Burton to Tom Brady, and unforgettable Red Sox from Ted Williams to Tony Conigliaro and, of course, many, many more I don’t have time to mention here.
So why is David Ortiz perhaps the most memorable Boston athlete ever?
Let me count the ways.
Of course, there’s the performance on the field – the incredible clutch hits, the better-than-average fielding when he got the chance, the passionate leadership, his sheer joy for the game.
But there are other reasons why Big Papi is being celebrated so intensely as he plays his final regular-season games at Fenway this weekend. More than any sports figure I can think of, Ortiz embraced our city and made it his own.
I was lucky enough to be at the first home game after the marathon murders, and can testify to the emotional impact his heartfelt speech that day had, expletives and all.
Few, if any, big sports stars have given back to the community more enthusiastically than Big Papi, especially when kids are involved.
And there were many moments, like the home run he promised to hit for an ailing Wyoming boy, a promise that was promptly kept.
David Ortiz gave us much more than just our first taste of winning in nearly a century. He gave us all he had, heart and soul, on and off the field.
And his celebration is a reminder that when you give Bostonians your all, we will love you back like no one else.