Entertainment Sports David 'Big Papi' Ortiz Delivers Emotional Hall of Fame Speech: 'So Thankful and Grateful' "Before I was Big Papi, before the Red Sox, before the Twins, I was just a kid playing ball in the Dominican Republic," said Ortiz By Natasha Dye Natasha Dye Twitter Natasha Dye is a writer-reporter for PEOPLE Digital covering sports. People Editorial Guidelines Published on July 25, 2022 01:23 PM Share Tweet Pin Email David Ortiz. Photo: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty David "Big Papi" Ortiz was the name on everybody's lips during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday. More than 35,000 fans gathered in Cooperstown, New York to celebrate the Hall of Fame class, which included Ortiz, Buck O'Neil, and Jim Kaat, among others, according to MLB.com. Ortiz, who won three World Series titles with the Red Sox, was met with chants of "Papi, Papi, Papi!" as he took the podium. "From my family to coaches to teammates to fans, no I could not have done this without you," the 46-year-old athlete told the crowd. "My Hall of Fame plaque represents each one of you and I'm going to thank you guys for the rest of my life." "I have always tried to live my life in a way to support others that make a positive influence in the world," said Ortiz. "Before I was Big Papi, before the Red Sox, before the Twins, I was just a kid playing ball in the Dominican Republic." David Ortiz Tears Up in First Interview Since Being Shot in Dominican Republic: 'I Almost Died' Ortiz was the 58th player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and is also the youngest player to achieve baseball immortality at age 46. "I learned not so long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot. It's a wonderful honor to be able to get in," said Ortiz. RELATED VIDEO: David 'Big Papi' Ortiz and Wife Tiffany Split After 25 Years Together Ortiz added: "To all my coaches from winter ball, minor league and the big leagues, I could not have done it without you. If my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world. You can change their future." The MLB superstar recognized his former teammates during his speech as well. "My teammates always were there for me and that's something that I'm always going to appreciate. In life, remember, our teammates are our second family," he said. David Ortiz Hall of Fame Speech. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty "I feel so thankful and grateful for being able to accomplish what I was able to accomplish and have the career that I had. I always blame it on the fans. The fans got the best out of me. The Red Sox fans, I want to thank all of them very much," Ortiz later said in a press conference. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Ortiz's inspirational words were especially touching to longtime fans of the athlete's, who watched him endure a challenging recovery after being shot in 2019. The athlete required emergency surgery in wake of the attack followed by multiple more surgeries to address complications from his gunshot wound. David Ortiz Was Allegedly Targeted by Drug Kingpin César 'The Abuser' Peralta in 2019 Shooting: Report In March, Boston police commissioner Ed Davis told The Boston Globe that Ortiz's attacker was allegedly drug kingpin César "The Abuser" Peralta, after conducting a six-month private investigation. The Major League Baseball star and Peralta had crossed paths "multiple times" before the 2019 shooting in Ortiz's native Dominican Republic. In his interview with the Globe, Davis alleged that "Peralta said he had David shot," citing information shared with him by United States law enforcement officials.