In a speech at the Hall of Fame, Red Sox great David Ortiz punched him out of the park

In all, an estimated 35,000 people gathered for the Hall of Fame induction party on Sunday, the vast majority of whom are there to honor the player known as Big Papi.

In a 19-minute speech as emotional as one of his fast rides, Ortiz rewarded their ride.

“Wow, Cooperstown!” Ortiz said.

Pinning the Dominican flag on the lapel of his blue mane, Ortiz switched between English and Spanish telling the story of his career back to his early days as a professional and thanking those who were instrumental in propel him into the Hall of Fame.

“I was just a kid playing ball in the Dominican Republic,” Ortiz said. “They saw something in me that they fought for.”

In total, he named nearly 50 people, from his family to his first rookie coaches in 1993.

Ortiz later said that he cried several times while preparing for and rehearsing the speech, but was able to pull it all together while on stage.

The only time he came close to breaking up was while speaking directly to his father, Leo, and paying tribute to his late mother, Angela.

“I thought it would be worse to be honest with you,” he said. “Emotions are under control.” As Ortiz spoke, in front of him were members of his family along with Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner, team boss Sam Kennedy, a group of team executives, and several of his former teammates on the 2004 and 2007 championship teams.

Ortiz smiled when he spotted Jason Varitek, who had taken a day off from his duties on the Red Sox coaching staff to attend the party.

“I can’t forget about Jason Varitek,” he said. “This guy is serious. I love you, Cap.”

Ortiz singled out fellow Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who was sitting behind him with 47 other Hall of Famers. Three of his four Red Sox managers, Grady Little, Terry Francona and John Farrell, were also thanked.

“Tito, wherever you are, man, you know my door is the one who reaches you. John too.”

He didn’t mention Bobby Valentine, who ran the disastrous and controversy-ridden 2012 team.

Ortiz also saluted the late Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, the mentor during his time with the Minnesota Twins and the reason he wore the No. 34 in Boston.

“My teammates have always been there for me and that’s something I will always appreciate,” Ortiz said. “In life, remember, our teammates are our second family.”

Red Sox fans were on his mind when Ortiz recalled the feelings of the 2013 championship and his last game at Fenway Park in 2016.

“I’ll always be there for you, Boston. I love you, Boston.”

“I love you, Boston,” Ortiz said during his induction party Sunday.Barry Chen / Globe Staff

There was great appreciation from the audience for the other honorees: Negro Leagues major Bud Fowler, former Dodgers first man and Mets manager, Gil Hodges, old bowler Jim Kaat, White Sox great Minnie Minoso, eight-time Twins All-Star Tony Oliva, and League player The Negro and MLB coach Buck O’Neill.

Fowler, Hodges, Minoso, and O’Neill were posthumously entered. Hall of Famer as Dave Winfield Fowler, who died in 1913. Their relatives spoke on behalf of the other three.

Erin Hodges spoke eloquently about her father, close to tears as she recounted his relationship with Jackie Robinson.

Oliva’s speech included a call to the Hall of Fame to acknowledge his friend and fellow Cuban Luis Tiant, a former Red Sox pitcher.

Oliva made the same point later when discussing his speech.

“Louis Tiant is in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “It was everything.”

Jim Cat, left, Tony Oliva, center, and David Ortiz with their plates after Sunday’s Hall of Fame induction.Barry Chen / Globe Staff

Ortiz is an inner circle Hall of Fame, one of only 58 elected in his first year of eligibility by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

He received less than 78 percent of the vote despite a 2009 New York Times report citing anonymous sources who claimed Ortiz tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003.

Ortiz knowingly denied using any PEDs. In 2016, Commissioner Rob Manfred questioned the scientific validity of the 2003 test, which helped pave the way for Ortiz’s election and what was a memorable speech.

“If my story reminds you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. You can change their future, just like so many people who believed in me,” he said.

“To everyone who believed in me – from my family, to the coaches, to my teammates, to the fans – I know I wouldn’t have done this without you. My Hall of Fame board represents each and every one of you and I will thank you guys for the rest of my life.”


Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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