The 2016 baseball season has been one long, last home run trot for David Ortiz. One of the best players for the one of the most storied franchises in professional sports is retiring. Ortiz is beloved because he’s the smiling face of three World Series championship teams. Before Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox were infamous also-rans.

They found different ways to lose for almost a century. Bucky Dent! Aaron Boone! And of course, the most spectacular implosion in Boston history:

David Ortiz helped change all that. He’s responsible for many of the big moments that the Red Sox and their fans have enjoyed since his arrival.

There was his game-winning home run versus the Angels to send Boston to the 2004 ALCS. There was the game-tying grand slam in the 2013 ALCS against Detroit with the corpulent bullpen cop cheering in the background. And of course, the 2004 ALCS Game 4 extra-inning home run that started the most spectacular comeback in MLB history:

Thanks to Ortiz, New England Millennials have grown up in a much different Boston sports world than their older siblings and parents suffered through. Boston knows nothing now but winning (Red Sox), winning (Patriots) and winning (Celtics). What a time to be alive. What a time to thank Ortiz for the warm feelings.

At every baseball park he visits during his final season, he is showered with gifts. The Texas Rangers gave him cowboy boots and a belt buckle. The Seattle Mariners presented him with a 34-pound salmon. The Dodgers did something a little more traditional: A check for $10,000 was presented to Big Papi to his David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.