ST. LOUIS - It was a moment you don’t see much in baseball.
This isn’t a rah-rah sport, so having group skull sessions in the dugout a few feet from a roaming FOX camera is not the norm.
But there was David Ortiz, the face of the Boston Red Sox, in the fifth inning Sunday night rallying his team in full view of everyone. In essence, his message was get your chins up and get your bats to wake up.
A few minutes later, Jonny Gomes’ three-run homer in the top of the sixth snapped a tie and Boston was on its way to a 4-2 victory that evened the World Series.
If the Red Sox go on to win their third title in 10 years, the brief chat will go down in Red Sox lore and will be one of the seminal moments in the larger-than-life persona of Big Papi.
“David doesn’t script much. And that certainly wasn’t scripted last night,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Monday prior to Game Five, also won by Boston. “I thought the way things were unfolding in that game, it was an appropriate message that he gave. It ends up being a timely one.
“But even if the sixth inning doesn’t unfold as it did, I still thought it was something that’s very unique at this level for a major-league player to call an impromptu team message meeting. … He felt like there was maybe an overarching mood that needed to be jolted and snapped out of. And that’s what took place.”
Most players in the Boston clubhouse deferred to Ortiz about the scope of his message but Big Papi gave up the crux of it to reporters who crowded around his locker in the wee hours of Monday morning.
“I saw a lot of faces looking in the wrong direction,” Ortiz said. “I know we’re a better offensive team than we’ve showed. You put pressure on yourself and try to overdo things, it doesn’t work that way.
“You think you’re going to come to the World Series every year, you’re wrong. Especially playing in the AL East. You know how many people we beat up to get to this stage? A lot of good teams. And that doesn’t happen every year.”
Ortiz is 37 now, the lone player left from Boston’s 2004 World Series team that swept the Cardinals and ended the franchise’s 86-year drought and won again in 2007.
He could win three titles in a decade, unthinkable for generations of Red Sox players and fans.
“I told them it took me six years to get back to this stage,” Ortiz said. “We had better teams than we had right now and we never made it so take advantage of being here. I don’t have another 10 years on me. I don’t know when I’m going to be back in the World Series. I gotta give everything I have right now.”
It was a few minutes later that Gomes, who was 0 for 9 in the series, took Seth Maness deep for the game’s decisive blow but the night’s hero pointed back to Ortiz as his inspiration.
“If this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” Gomes said.
“He got everyone’s attention and we looked him right in the eyes.”
Ortiz went 3 for 4 with an RBI in Game Five and is 11 for 15 in the series (.733). Before Monday, the rest of the team was batting .138.