"I want to thank God for giving me a second opportunity in my life to be here with all of you," Big Papi told the crowd on Monday night
Red Sox fans were in for quite the treat on Monday when David Ortiz made a surprise appearance at Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch of the game against the New York Yankees.
The beloved baseball star, 43, earned a standing ovation from the crowd when he stepped onto the field in his first public appearance since being shot in the Dominican Republic in June.
“I want to thank God for giving me a second opportunity in my life to be here with all of you,” Ortiz told the crowd after emerging from the dugout, according to ESPN. “I want to thank the Red Sox, my real family. They always have been there for me, supporting me … They were the first ones there supporting me.”
“I want to thank you for all for your prayers, all of them came home,” he added before throwing the ball to his former teammate Jason Varitek.
Big Papi watched the game from a first-row seat next to the Red Sox’s dugout, and during the first inning gifted his number 34 home jersey to a young boy seated a few rows behind him, ESPN reported.
Ortiz’s homecoming comes just a few weeks after he was released from Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was being treated after he was shot in the back at a nightclub in his hometown in the Dominican Republic on June 9.
The bullet caused damage to his liver and his intestines, and the MLB star has since undergone three surgeries as a result.
Shortly after arriving home from the hospital, Ortiz thanked his doctors and nurses in a statement obtained by the Boston Globe.
“They are some of the best teammates I have ever had,” he said of his medical care team, also thanking fans for “the prayers and good wishes from the Dominican Republic and Red Sox Nation.”
With his return to Fenway on Monday, it seems Ortiz has already fulfilled the promise he made at the end of that statement: “Big Papi will be back soon.”
Ortiz continues his rehabilitation from home.