As live Latin music echoed through the Boston Marriott Copley Place and servers offered appetizers at an elegant cocktail reception, many players spent their off-day meeting and mingling with donors at the fundraising event, which supports healthcare for disadvantaged children both in New England and in Ortiz's native Dominican Republic.
Now in its third year, the fundraiser has helped Ortiz's non-profit raise over $1.5 million and provide live-saving heart surgery to over 200 children in the Dominican Republic.
"There's a lot of kids out there that, they don't have the financial standing to go to hospitals and get better, get healthier," Ortiz said. "I think it's very important for all of us, a healthy future. You never know. Life goes wrong and a lot people out there that need help."
The Gala guest list featured a large group of Red Sox teammates who came to support Ortiz's outreach efforts, including Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Steven Wright, Robbie Ross Jr. and Brock Holt.
"I think all of us, we know it's pretty special to him," Holt said. "Anyone who has charities like this or events like this, you're pretty fond of what they're doing. As teammates, it's kind of our job, our responsibility, something that we want to do to be here and support our guys."
And with the Orioles already in town ahead of this week's series at Fenway Park, Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones made an appearance for his longtime friend.
"We go way back, like Jheri curls," Jones said of Ortiz.
"We're good friends," Ortiz said. "He has been supporting me for years."
A slew of other high-profile attendees showed up, as well, such as former Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and Dropkick Murphys bassist Ken Casey. MLB Network reporter Heidi Watney and comedian Lenny Clarke emceed the event.
In addition to chatting with the celebrities, guests could enter a silent auction and place bids for a wide array of items, which ranged from ticket packages to a Larry Bird-signed basketball and a framed, signed Carlton Fisk jersey.
Afterwards, participants enjoyed a three-course dinner that showcased the flavors Ortiz's home country. Despite Big Papi's self-professed culinary skills, however, he left the cooking up to the chefs.
"I can cook anything. I can put flavor on anything. That's me. That's what I was built for," Ortiz said jokingly.
Ultimately, the apparent success of Ortiz's fundraiser comes down to the large man's ability to appeal to such a large group of people. And it's his gregarious nature that his peers say will shine through the most once his baseball career comes to an end.
"I love Big Papi. I love what he does," Jones said. "He's a big supporter of kids, obviously one of the [most giving] guys who just so happens to be on his way to the Hall of Fame. But he's a Hall of Fame person. That stands out more. That's what he'll be remembered for, is what he does when the camera's not on."