Big men make big promises. Those who keep them become legends.
Her name was Allison Lundy. She was 9 years old, and she had a brain tumor. Her doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital wrote a letter to David Ortiz, who brought it to John Carter, a friend who worked in the team’s TV production department. Contact the family, Ortiz said, and arrange for a visit.
A few days later, Allison Lundy looked up from her hospital bed to see Ortiz entering her room. He spent the morning with her, and when she came to Fenway Park a couple of weeks later to celebrate her 10th birthday, he surprised her with a cake and told her he would hit a home run for her.
It was a miserable night—heavy rain had fallen that afternoon—but in the fourth inning, against Oakland rookie right-hander Graham Godfrey, Ortiz drove a ball into the Monster seats .
That night, as Carter drove home from the ballpark, his cellphone rang. It was Ortiz. He had arranged for someone to retrieve the home run ball, and he wanted to make sure it got into Allison’s hands. A promise kept for a little girl, whose life would end far too soon.
Allison Lundy died that winter of 2011, but not before Big Papi had brought her a measure of joy.