As the Red Sox make their way into the postseason as division champions, fans making their way to Fenway Park could soon be doing so by walking across the David Ortiz 'Big Papi' Bridge.
Legislation attached to a spending bill now before the state House of Representatives would rename the Boston bridge that carries Brookline Avenue over the Massachusetts Turnpike and a set of railroad tracks in honor of the retiring Red Sox designated hitter.
"David Ortiz's accomplishments and heroics on and off the baseball field have made him a living legend, and his heartfelt contributions to the communities here and in his native Dominican Republic have made him an icon," Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. "As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I am thrilled to be able to help our Commonwealth create a lasting 'Thank You' to Big Papi through the renaming of this bridge."
A spending bill (H 4517) to close the books on the 2016 fiscal year, which began moving through the House Ways and Means Committee late Thursday morning, includes a section naming the bridge for Ortiz in recognition of "his athletic accomplishments during 14 seasons as a member of the Boston Red Sox, and his personal contributions to the commonwealth, notably, his charitable commitment to children in New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services they need, and in helping the city of Boston heal in the face of the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy."
The plan to rename the bridge is a joint effort among the House, Senate and governor's office, according to a statement. The legislation charges the state Department of Transportation with placing a "suitable marker" on the bridge.
"Whether it be his clutch curse breaking hits on the diamond, his now legendary speech to rally the spirits of this city in the aftermath of the Marathon Bombing, or his prodigious charity work, 'Papi' has left a lasting impact," House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, a Haverhill Democrat, said in a statement. "I am proud that we can recognize his efforts and wish him well as he ends his career with what we hope is another memorable playoff run."
The Red Sox on Wednesday night clinched the division title, despite a loss to the New York Yankees on a ninth-inning grand slam in the Bronx. Postseason games begin next week.
Throughout his final season, Ortiz has been honored both in Fenway and on the road, with home game promotions including gnome, necklace and canvas print giveaways bearing his likeness.
"David Ortiz has been a big part of our community both on and off the field," Senate President Stan Rosenberg said in a statement. "Whether [it is] leading the Red Sox to multiple World Series Championships or all of his charitable work, he has truly been the pride of Boston. I am proud that we can honor him by naming this bridge after him so his legacy can live on after his playing days have ended."
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