Skip to Content
wgbh News

David Ortiz's Legacy On & Off The Field

At the Red Sox team store on Yawkey Way, it’s big time Big Papi.

Store manager Theo Matt is trying to keep up, “His jerseys have been flying off the racks for us. Anything that’s got that 34 on it.”

That includes dolls, hats, and even magazines. Fans are trying to hold on to a piece of Red Sox history as number 34 gets ready to retire.

Longtime fan Jim Marroquin is sad to see Big Papi go, “He’s really great he makes everybody feel like their family and on the field big 34 he’s done a great job.”

David Ortiz came to Boston in 2003 and with more than 500 career home runs, he’s even won the respect of some Yankees fans. One told us,  “He’s a good guy he’s a good player we always hated seeing him come up to bat.”

Big Papi has been a force on the field and off the field. Like when he showed what it meant to be Boston strong after the marathon bombings.

But Jose Luzon loves Big Papi for another reason, “They saved my boys life.”

Luzon brought his then two-year-old son Josemaily to Boston from the Dominican Republic to be treated for severe burns. Doctors also found a heart problem and referred the boy to Dr. Oscar Benavidez, the Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He says once he checked Josemaily out he knew there was a big problem.

“What I saw was pretty terrifying, frankly even though he was a toddler the size of his heart was that of a 50 year olds heart.”

Josemaily needed immediate open heart surgery. His parents didn’t have insurance, but Dr. Benavidez had a solution. The David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which ended up covering the cost of the life-saving surgery that fixed a valve in Josemailys heart.

Dr. Benavidez says Big Papi is a familiar face on the pediatric floor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Seeing him with the families and how he interacts with the families is really genuine. He cares about them a lot.”

Josemaily Luzon is now a healthy 6-year-old. His father, Jose, hopes to meet Big Papi one-day face to face with one message.

“I’d say thank you very much for saving my boys life.”



WGBH News coverage is a resource provided by member-supported public radio. We can’t do it without you.