David Ortiz is accustomed to fans serenading him with “Papi! Papi!” chants inside the familiar confines of Fenway Park, but Saturday morning that unbridled enthusiasm came in a different setting.
The former Red Sox slugger delivered a speech as a commencement speaker at Regis College’s commencement. While addressing more than 900 students was a privilege in itself, there was one particular student Ortiz was especially overjoyed to honor: his oldest daughter, Jessica Ortiz, who was one of those graduates.
"One of the most important things for me was confidence, it is everything. Every time I stepped up to the plate I was confident in myself. Because I was smart, I was prepared, I worked hard and I had the support of my family and friends." – @davidortiz at #Regis2019 commencement.
— Regis College (@RegisCollege_MA) May 11, 2019
Ortiz himself received an honorary doctorate of law, and he spoke about why he’s so thrilled to share the occasion with his family. He started the speech by highlighting the importance of education, using an analogy he’s very comfortable with to convey his point.
“You don’t need to be able to hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball, because you have all the slugging power you could need right there in your mind,” Ortiz said.
He then pointed out that his parents wanted him to be as educated as possible. They reminded him that if his baseball career didn’t pan out, he’d always have a backup plan if he kept studying.
Ortiz said hard work, preparation, and believing in himself were a few of the most important ingredients in the success he had as a player. He then shifted gears, stopping for a moment and noting that he was getting emotional because his dad, Enrique Ortiz, was in the audience.
“It’s so important to me, family, because the family that I come from, it’s a family that works extremely hard to give me the opportunity to be who I am today,” Ortiz said.
Finally, he congratulated everyone, thanked Regis College for letting him speak, and closed with a resounding “God bless, peace out, and go Sox.” Then came that familiar cheer.