My dear father Sam Miller told me frequently over the last quarter of his life, “There’s a time to leave the party.”
I told him I understood and continually asked him, “How do you know when that time has come?”
“That,” he said, “is something you have to figure out for yourself.” (I do think he hinted it was better to leave too early than to stay too late.)
Of course, the “party” can be many things. (I think he first mentioned his mantra when I was considering whether to retire from the school a group of us had created and operated for 30+ years, but he also often mentioned “leaving the party” when he was talking about the end of his own life.)
For those of you (un)lucky ones who may not follow the Boston Red Sox too closely, David Ortiz, Big Papi, told the baseball world on Nov. 19, 2015 — his 40th birthday — that 2016 would be his final year in baseball, saying, “After next year, time is up.” (To see and hear his full announcement, go to the video Ortiz posted to The Players’ Tribune.)
I’ll spare you a review of how good Ortiz’s season was in 2015 and all the things he’s done with his bat, what he’s meant to his team, to the Red Sox Nation, to the city of Boston, to baseball in general, and to his countrymen in the Dominican Republic. There’ll be innumerable articles about all of that throughout the coming season. It’s fair to say, I believe, he’s as close to a lock on getting into the Hall of Fame (may be even the first year he’s eligible) as it’s possible to be.
(Also, check out these two articles, Ortiz still hungry but ready to pass the torch and Papi’s swan song will be a celebration for baseball.)
But the purpose of this post is to give you a heads up for this final year. It won’t be the way Derek Jeter did it, who, in my humble opinion, stayed at the party too long. (Despite his playing for the “Evil Empire,” I always liked Jeter and thought he was one of the class guys in baseball.)
Ortiz’s leaving will be more subdued, less scripted. But if you have a kid, take him to see Ortiz, or just go yourself so you can tell your grand kid you saw him in his final year. You don’t have to go to Fenway to see him. Go to a Sox away game, especially if it’s in your own home town, where it might be easier and less expensive to get tickets to a Sox game.
It’s hard to know when Ortiz’s last at bat will be, but here are two dates to know: the final regular season away game is at Yankee Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 29th. And the Sox’s final regular season home game is October 2 at Fenway Park. If you’re a Sox fan, you hope, as always, that there will be a post season and that whenever his final at bat occurs, he will be able to match Ted Williams and hit a home run.
And wouldn’t it be something if Big Papi won the World Series for the Sox with a walk off home run? But I digress.
That’s not really what’s important.
Not only has Ortiz has brought much joy to many of us (and three World Series), but he will be remembered as one of the Red Sox all time greats, probably the best Designated Hitter of all time.
On top of that, he’s a mensch. Just ask anyone associated with the Sox, even the just added David Price, who once thought the worst of Ortiz.
Think about seeing Big Papi in his final year.
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For those of you who may have missed an earlier post this week, I’ve announced the 2016 MillersTime Baseball Contests where you can join others who know anywhere from almost nothing about baseball to those who think they’re experts.
Consider joining this year. There’s no cost, other than a bit of your time. And if you don’t know much about baseball, maybe someone in your family or one of your friends does. Pass it on to them, and if they enter, mention your name, and win, then so do you.