Boston Red Sox fans are reacting with shock to news that their beloved former slugger David Ortiz was ambushed by a man who got off a motorcycle and shot him in the back at close range in his native Dominican Republic.
Ortiz was taken to a clinic Sunday night, where he underwent surgery, and his condition was stable.
Fans searching for Red Sox memorabilia ahead of Monday night game picked through a selection of colors bearing Ortiz’ number 34 jersey.
That includes Suzee Anderson, from Spanish Fork, Utah, who was celebrating her birthday by attending her first Red Sox game in Boston.
She said a friend texted her news of the shooting Monday night.
“And my first thoughts were: ‘Oh dear, I hope he is not dead’ because I could not imagine a world without David Ortiz in it,” Anderson said.
She added that she considers the slugger as the face of the Red Sox, particularly after he gave a passionate speech as the city was reeling and trying to heal following the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.
“He led us through a horrific thing for Boston and so we just have attached ourselves to him and it does feel like a member of the family,” Anderson said.
Stephanie Moscaritolo was at loss for words to as she tried to explain the significance of the retired slugger.
“Even though he’s retired he’s still being part of this team. He is … I mean, he’s Ortiz, like, you can’t … He’s Big Papi, like, you can’t … He’s the soul of the team almost, even though he doesn’t really play for us. He’s still out there on the numbers, like, I’m wearing his jersey now. Like, we all love him kind of thing. So, yeah,” Moscaritolo said while heading to the ballpark with her sister, wearing Ortiz’ jersey.
The 43-year-old Ortiz hit 541 homers in 20 major league seasons, including 14 with the Red Sox.
He helped lead Boston to three World Series titles and retired after the 2016 season.
He was a 10-time All-Star and World Series MVP in 2013.
Red Sox fan Andrew Gray noted that Ortiz continued to support charitable causes even after his retirement, which makes news of his shooting so senseless.
“He’s done a lot for the community. He’s done a lot for the kids.
He’s done a lot for everybody, especially breaking the curse in ’04.
I mean, that’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever done for us in Boston,” Gray said outside Fenway Park.