Andrew Touhy Assistant Account Executive and Katie Krall CS Intern
He is the baseball player that Red Sox Nation deifies and the one Yankees fans love to hate. But on September 27th, in a letter published in the Players Tribune titled “Thanks for the Memories, New York,” David Ortiz wrote to Yankees fans to show his deep and genuine appreciation for their role in creating his legacy. The Yankees and Red Sox power battle transcends sports, and allowed Ortiz to become more than a baseball player, but instead, a legend.
Before the final Red Sox/Yankees series of Ortiz’s career at Yankee Stadium, a Yankees fan started a campaign encouraging fans to moon the Red Sox’s designated hitter. Instead of spewing spiteful criticism towards Yankees fans, Ortiz decided to pay homage to both franchises in his piece.
Ortiz cited his respect for Yankee greats Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera who, through their conduct both on and off the field, inspired him to push himself to be a better ballplayer. He also mentioned that during his childhood in the Dominican Republic Yankees hats were worn by the masses. The dark navy caps represented more than a baseball team; they were symbols of the American dream.
“When I came to this country and was trying to make it to the big leagues, I looked at guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano River, and I was almost in awe,” Ortiz wrote. “When I got to play against the Yankees my first few years, I would watch some of the things Jeter would do in the field like I was just a fan.”
On the night of the planned “mass mooning,” the Yankees gave Ortiz a leather-bound book containing handwritten notes by current and former Yankees. An announcement was made before the first pitch asking fans to set aside the rivalry in order to honor Big Papi. Fans obliged as Ortiz received standing ovations for both of his last two at-bats in the Bronx.
Ortiz’s letter turned the spotlight away from a few Yankees fans’ half-baked attempt at a practical joke and instead highlighted his contributions to the history of baseball, and the role Yankees fans played in shaping it.
Yankees fans are disgruntled by the Red Sox’s success this season and their own team’s inability to capture either Wildcard spots. By reminding the fans of the excitement and feats that have occurred at both New and Old Yankee Stadium Ortiz is subtly making this season more palatable for a fan base that expects to compete every season.
Instead of fanning the flames, Ortiz worked proactively to ride the wave, flipped the script on the moon movement, and redirected the message into one that was positive and monumental.