The Red Sox began their last regular-season game Sunday with a ceremony honoring retiring designated hitter David Ortiz. And while the team now goes on to post season play, Sunday’s game was a powerful moment in a season-long farewell tour for the player Boston fans know as “Big Papi.”

The parade of people who marched across Fenway’s outfield to pay tribute to David Ortiz included former teammates, legendary players from the Bruins, and Patriots, the entire 2016 Celtics team, the president of the Dominican Republic, marathon bombing victims, kids who were helped by Ortiz’s pediatric surgery charity, and his own father. The Red Sox announced they’re retiring his number next season (#34) and the team donated a million dollars to his charity.

Ortiz gave everybody a hug. And then he took the mic.

“I want to thank my mom,” he said. And with that, he choked up. Ortiz’s mother died nearly 15 years ago, but he said later it feels like it still was yesterday.

“OK, I’m back," he said after a moment. "I want to thank you mom, wherever you’re at. I want to thank you so much. And I miss you.”

Ortiz thanked the rest of his family, his teammates, the Red Sox organization. And then he got down on one knee.

“I want to thank all of you. The fans," he said. "Thank you!”

As Ortiz played the last regular-season game of his career, former teammates told to the press what it was like to play with him. Outfielder Jonny Gomes, who played with Ortiz when they won the 2013 World Series, said unlike many other sports superstars, Ortiz was never self-centered.

“He’s on the top step no matter who hits the home run," Gomes said. "You know, he’s got high fives with everybody. He’s locked in to everybody in the uniform. At the same time, catching up with your family, asking about your kids. My son’s five years old, and hits exactly like David right now. He’s the only lefty in the family. So, he had an impact even on my kid.”

Third baseman Mike Lowell, who also won a World Series with Ortiz - in 2007 - agreed. “I think he was someone that was genuinely accessible and I think he genuinely wanted to get to know his teammates," Lowell said. "And when you’re that good and you still feel like, still make other people feel important, I think that’s a pretty special quality.”

The stands at Fenway Sunday were full of people not just there to watch a baseball game, but to pay tribute to their hero.

“When the game’s on the line, that’s the guy you want at the plate," said Tom Vespo of Long Island. "He never disappoints.”

“I just think he’s wonderful," said his wife, Debbie Vespo. "The good stuff he does for all the people in the city and around the world, and how he cares for the kids.”

“It’s about more than just producing. It’s about leadership," said Jason Healy of Boston. "Being somebody that other people can look up to, whether its other players on the team looking up to him, or people in the community.”

Dustin Conforti held a sign with a hand-drawn illustration of Ortiz holding his hat above his head in salute to the crowd. “My sign says, ‘thanks for the memories, Big Papi,’” he said.

“I’m 30 years old, he’s the best player I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Adam Roy of Connecticut.

Candy Donovan put it simply. “David Ortiz is Boston,” she said.

In the end, the Sox wound up losing the game without Big Papi getting any hits. But it still felt more like a celebration of a remarkable career than a loss. After the game, Ortiz said the Boston fans have pulled the best out of him, and given him and his teammates a reason to play hard.

“It’s like I always tell them, if you show these fans, you bust your tail every day, and you show them that you want to bring something to the table to win ballgames every day, they’re going to love you," Ortiz said. "They’re going to love you because that’s how they are around here.”

Among the many tributes announced recently is the renaming of the Brookline Avenue bridge after him.

“Might go there for a day," he said with a laugh. "Just drive back and forth just to see how it feel like.”

Now, after 14 years with the Sox, nearly 2,500 career hits and more than 540 career home runs, Ortiz says the time has come.

“You know at some point enough is enough," he said. "I’m not getting any younger. I decided to go, and I think this is the best time to go.”

But not quite yet. Big Papi and the Red Sox begin the post-season this Thursday with the first game of the American League Division Series against the Indians in Cleveland.