Saturday, 2:15 PM
(Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff)
By Christopher Baxter, Globe Correspondent
David Ortiz is a legendary slugger whose swing has made him an iconic part of the national pastime. But it was not until today that the Dominican-born designated hitter could call himself a US citizen.
Ortiz was one of 227 immigrants who raised their right hands and took the Oath of Citizenship at the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester. The cast he has worn since partially tearing a tendon in his left hand did not stop him from clutching a small American flag as he spoke to a crush of reporters after the ceremony.
"My whole family, kids, and everyone have been born here," Ortiz said. "It's a great country, proud to be here, now proud to be a part of it."
Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, added: "It's a big deal for him. It's really important and I'm really proud of him."
When pressed by reporters, Ortiz did not discuss the finer points of citizenship. He did not endorse a presidential candidate or give an indication for whom he would be casting his ballot. "We haven't really talked about the whole voting thing," Tiffany Ortiz said.
The Boston skyline served as a backdrop for the ceremony, which was performed by US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton in a room with large windows looking out over Dorchester Bay. The Kennedy Library Foundation held a private lunch for Ortiz before the event, serving beef short ribs and a bean dish for his guests, who included two of his children, Alexandra, 7, and D'Angelo, 3; his father, Americo Enrique Ortiz; and Red Sox President Larry Lucchino.
John Shattuck, CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, recognized Ortiz at the start of the ceremony, saying that the slugger had "done more than almost anyone to help the people of Boston and the nation far beyond to realize our hopes and dreams and opportunities by what he does and who he is, especially when he steps up to the plate at Fenway."
Judge Gorton followed that lead when he spoke about the significance of the national anthem without mentioning Ortiz by name.
"It happens before every Red Sox game at Fenway Park here in Boston," Gorton said. "Just before the game starts, all of us are asked to stop what we are doing -- and that means the hot dog vendors, the ushers, the fans in the bleachers, the people in the owner's box, the sportswriters, the players on the opposing team, and even our heroes on the Red Sox, including the one on the disabled list who has led us to two world championships in the past four years."
Ortiz then joined the 226 other new citizens as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, putting his large right hand over his heart, a gold ring standing out against his dark suit.
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