"These are Fort Myers fans that support the Twins, support the Red Sox and [me]," Ortiz said. "I've been here for a while. I bet you a lot of these people watched me playing when I played for the [Class A Advanced Fort Myers] Miracle down here. I'm pretty sure they're super happy with how my career has gone."
They have many reasons to be pleased. Ortiz, 40, has a shared history with Boston and Minnesota. He played 342 career Grapefruit League games in Fort Myers throughout his Major League career, first with the Twins from 1997-2002 and then with the Red Sox since 2003. Hammond Stadium was his first spring home, before City of Palms Park (2003-11) and JetBlue Park (since 2012) hosted his maturation into a prized piece of Boston's history.
Ortiz's farewell started early Thursday. He received a long standing ovation before his at-bat in the first and doffed his helmet toward the crowd. He went 1-for-3, with a strikeout and a groundout in addition to his home run, before Cole Sturgeon replaced him as the Red Sox's designated hitter.
"I think it matters a lot to David," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of the home run, "because he didn't like the way the previous at-bat went, asked for another. And to see him have that kind of intensity tuned up a little bit against one of their starters, good to see him square the ball up."
Standing in a corridor Thursday afternoon, not long after he jolted the crowd into excitement, Ortiz was pleased with his final act at Hammond Stadium. There will be more goodbyes to come, but this one held meaning because of where his journey began.
"You see a kid start, and 20 years later you see his career and being the way it has been, and then you get to see his last Spring Training game," Ortiz said, "it's something that makes it special."
Andrew Astleford is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.