Red Sox

The power of believing in someone: Takeaways from David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame speech

"When you believe in someone, you can change their world."

David Ortiz
Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, speaks during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. AP Photo/John Minchillo

David Ortiz knows he was blessed with the ability to play baseball.

The former Red Sox superstar opened his remarks at his official induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday by thanking God for the opportunity to “travel this path,” and referenced his God-given abilities multiple times in his 20-minute speech.

But Ortiz knows something else too: He couldn’t have done this alone. To become a Hall of Famer, Ortiz needed lot of things needed to break right, and more importantly, he needed a lot of people needed to believe in him.

He needed his mother and father. Ortiz thanked both in Spanish, saying that whenever he has a drink, he looks to heaven dedicating everything to his mother who died tragically in a 2002 car accident. He thanked his father for focusing on education, for sacrificing so that his kids could have a better life, and for buying Ortiz his first bat, glove and ball.

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“Mom was everything for me,” Ortiz said in Spanish. “I love you Dad — you already know it. I love you, Mom, wherever God has you.”

He thanked several managers, including Grady Little who pulled him aside after he bunted in his spring training debut against the Twins.

“‘I don’t want you to be here to move them over, I want you to be here to bring them in,'” Ortiz recounted Little saying. “The rest is history.”

Ortiz needed the Twins, who reminded him to work hard and never let go of an opportunity when they dealt him to the Red Sox. He needed Kirby Puckett’s leadership and guidance — so much so, that when he got to Boston he donned the late Puckett’s No. 34.

Ortiz needed the Red Sox ownership group, and managers Terry Francona and John Ferrell. He needed his teammates — “los chicos locos” as Ortiz called them. He needed the city of Boston.

Somewhere along the line, while navigating a wildly successful career, Ortiz learned a deeply valuable lesson: You can help a person become great by believing in them deeply and wholeheartedly.

“If my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world,” Ortiz said. “You can change their future, just like so many people who believed in me. To everybody that believed in me, from my family to coaches to teammates to fans, know that I could not have done this without you.

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“My Hall of Fame plaque represents each one of you, and I’m going to thank you guys for the rest of my life.”

More takeaways

  • Ortiz spoke extensively in Spanish, talking directly to people from the Dominican Republic, his home country. He thanked his fans back home who accepted him as “a favorite son,” adding that he appreciated their music, food, good vibes, happiness and “fighter’s spirit.” He also thanked Dominican president Luis Abinader, who seemed to have sent a delegation to the event.
  • Ortiz also thanked his American fans and offered an invitation to visit his home country.

    “It’s a special place where we have a lot of good and happy people, beautiful beaches where you can go when you are freezing here,” Ortiz said with a grin. “So show up in the Dominican.”
  • Ortiz was seated directly in front of Pedro Martinez. When he walked onto the stage, the crowd gave him such a long ovation that he stood up again and waved, then turned to Martinez and did his home-run celebration pointing to the sky.

    During his speech, Ortiz singled out “mi compadre Pedro” specifically as someone who aided him in his early years in Boston.

    “I have to thank him because for me, he’s been a brother, a counselor, a lawyer, he’s even a plumber for me,” Ortiz said with a chuckle in Spanish, before switching back to English to say “I can talk about Pedro all day long.”
  • Ortiz saved Boston for near the end of his speech, noting that it has been almost 20 years since his first day in the city.

    “When I think about Boston, I definitely think about 2004, 2007 and of course 2013 after the city was shaken by the marathon bombing,” Ortiz said. “I’ve never seen a community bounce back and reunite like Boston. … I also think about the last game I played. Standing on the field at Fenway Park, it felt like the whole city of New England and each one and everyone of you was surrounding me and was showing me all of your love.”
  • Ortiz’s 21-year-old daughter Alex Veda sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem prior to the speeches. Veda is a rising senior at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
  • The MLB TV anchors who were part of the broadcast were in awe of Ortiz’s star power as well. Greg Amsinger marveled at Ortiz’s reception as he walked onto the stage.

    “The crowd is so big and full of David Ortiz fans,” Harold Reynolds added. “No disrespect to the other guys, but listen to what’s going on behind us. He hasn’t even started talking yet.”

    Amsinger noted with amusement that even Reynolds had his phone out and was recording the reaction to Ortiz.

    “You’ve got to grab the moment, Greg,” Reynolds answered.

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