David Ortiz's game-tying grand slam lifts Red Sox, produces iconic sports image

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

 BOSTON – Everyone will remember the cop.

They will remember other things, too, of course, because history demands as much. First they will remember the scene: bases loaded, tying run stomping to the plate, Fenway Park swelling with the sense of optimism that October arouses. Then they will remember the pitch: a changeup, fat and happy, tailing toward the outside corner but not far enough. They will remember the swing, too: classic David Ortiz, long and luxurious and perfect to scream a line drive toward right field. And they will remember the legs: Torii Hunter's, up in the air, sticking out with no sign of his torso, like the Wicked Witch, the other half of his body flipped over the fence in a noble but futile effort to stop a grand slam grander than most.

More than all of those, they will remember the cop. Oh, the cop. His name is Steve Horgan. He works for the Boston Police Department. He watches over the Boston Red Sox's bullpen during the game. And as the ball soared over Hunter's glove, and 38,029 people lost their minds, and the Red Sox tied the score in what would end up a 6-5 victory Sunday over the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Horgan thrust his arms into the air and screamed.

[Related: 'Greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history' delivers again]

Nobody better encapsulated the sheer bedlam, the unbridled ecstasy, the simultaneous exultation than a bearded, heretofore-anonymous member of the BPD who, if the Red Sox can parlay this playoff run into something bigger, will symbolize the most improbable win of the year. For the first 14 2/3 innings of the ALCS, Red Sox hitters went 1 for 45. That is a batting average Yahoo Sports has chosen not to print because it is an obscenity.

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Boston policeman Steve Horgan celebrates David Ortiz's homer as Torii Hunter crashes over the fence. (Getty)

Even after that first hit and first run in the sixth inning, the Red Sox still trailed Detroit 5-1, and one out into the bottom of the eighth inning, the likelihood of a Boston win dipped to 2.8 percent. Then came a double and a walk and a single and the sort of situation Ortiz loves and all Red Sox haters loathe.

"You don't want David Ortiz to beat you," Hunter said. "Everybody in the whole world knows this dude can beat you."

Part of this is legend trumping truth. The reality is that David Ortiz is a great hitter, and great hitters can do great things. He does not wear a giant S underneath his uniform. He does not magically turn into the greatest Red Sox player after Sept. 30. He has hit .083 and .095 and .154 and .235 in playoff series with Boston. He is fallible. Only people forget about those, because when a season teeters on the precipice and the only option is optimism, it beats the alternative.

"There were 24 guys in the dugout and 40,000 here that knew he was gonna hit a granny," Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

Knew?

"Hell yeah," Gomes said. "Gotta think about it for it to happen. Power of the mind."

[Slideshow: Check out more photos from Game 2 right here]

Never had Ortiz hit a grand slam in the playoffs. His 14 postseason home runs entering the game ranked 10th all-time. With one swing on an 86-mph changeup from Joaquin Benoit, he moved into a tie for ninth place with Babe Ruth.

"My idea at bat wasn't to go out and hit a grand slam," Ortiz said.

The idea didn't matter. He did hit one. Ortiz trotted around the bases, touched home plate, hugged those who scored ahead of him (Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), sauntered into a dugout where madness awaited and got shoved out for a curtain call. Hunter was still trying to figure out what happened. He saw the ball off the bat, lost it in the lights, found it again and overran it by one step that launched him over the fence and knocked the wind out of him.

And the Tigers. It wasn't a fait accompli, because baseball never is, but the Red Sox were convinced they were winning Game 2 and not heading to Detroit with a 2-0 deficit and a date with Justin Verlander. Gomes hit a broken-bat groundball into the shortstop hole to lead off the ninth against Rick Porcello and moved to second when former teammate Jose Iglesias threw the ball into the dugout trying to nab him. A wild pitch moved him to third, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia plated Gomes with a sharp single to left field.

Saltalamacchia rounded first base and kept running, though not fast enough to outpace the throng of teammates chasing him. The mosh pit commenced near second base and didn't break up until Saltalamacchia and Ortiz embraced, with the crowd chanting an appropriate soundtrack: "Pa-pi, Pa-pi, Pa-pi."

"When you back us into a wall, you either do two things: cave or fight," Pedroia said. "We're gonna fight." 

[Also: Angry Red Sox fan causes ugly scene at Fenway Park]

For a $150 million team, the Red Sox like to fancy themselves as scrappers. And there was fight in them Sunday. Five Detroit pitchers almost no-hit them in Game 1, and starter Max Scherzer did the same over the first 5 2/3 innings in Game 2, and this incredible 28-game turnaround they fashioned during the regular season looked like it was going to die an unsightly death in Detroit. 

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David Ortiz hugs Jarrod Saltalamacchia after Game 2. (USA Today)

A voice tried to tell them otherwise. Above the Red Sox's dugout, in the expensive seats, a man kept saying: "You know what happened with the Patriots today." They did. Before the game, Red Sox players gathered around televisions in the clubhouse to see Tom Brady throw a game-winning touchdown with five seconds left. For all the people who had left Gillette Stadium, it was Brady's reminder: Never count us out.

The Red Sox heard this man's voice, and they thought of the Pats, and the idealists in the dugout nodded, and the pragmatists thought more like catcher David Ross: "I was like, 'Well, that guy's got more hope than I do.' "

Turns out he was prescient. The Red Sox ignored 1 for 45, forgot that 31 of their outs in the series had come via strikeout, pushed Verlander to the back of their minds and began making memories. Benoit hung a pitch, and Ortiz pummeled it, and Hunter flipped, and Boston reveled.

And the cop, right there in the middle of history, threw both arms skyward and held them there, like a V for a victory that soon enough would be his and everyone else's.

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