Bullpen cop puts exclamation point on slam

BOSTON -- For a city that has embraced its first responders in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, it seems appropriate that the photo of a Boston police officer with his arms raised, standing in the Red Sox bullpen celebrating David Ortiz's eighth-inning grand slam as Torii Hunter tumbled over the right field wall, will go down as the iconic image of the team’s Game 2 ALCS comeback.

“I couldn’t even hear myself it was so loud,” said 50-year-old Steve Horgan, a South Walpole, Mass. native and 27-year veteran of the Boston police force. “I can’t believe it. I don’t know what to think. I can’t believe it. It was an awesome feeling.”

Ortiz’s grand slam erased a 5-1 Red Sox deficit and sent Fenway into a frenzy. The team beat the Tigers, 6-5, an inning later on a walk-off single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but it was Ortiz’s slam that will be forever remembered.

“Oh, it was awesome. It was great. David Ortiz. Grand slam. It was great,” Horgan told ESPNBoston.com after the game.

The replay, showed over and over, saw Hunter flipping into the bullpen and Horgan celebrating. The officer’s phone soon began to light up with text messages of the picture.

“I’ve got about 20 of them on my cell phone,” he said.

As soon as he realized Hunter might have hurt himself on the play, Horgan quickly went over, checked on him and called for help just in case. The Red Sox pitchers in the bullpen also checked on Hunter, and a Detroit team trainer came running out from the dugout to tend to him.

“I’m all right. Just trying to give an effort, man,” Hunter said after the game. “He hit the ball and it was hit pretty hard. Just going up and try my best to get the ball and ended up flipping over. Going after it pretty hard, it was all-or-nothing. Can’t believe that happened.”

Prior to the game, Hunter and Ortiz embraced with a big hug as the two have been close friends since they were teammates with the Minnesota Twins. On the fateful play in the eighth, Hunter almost made the leaping catch but it was just out of his reach.

“I don’t know, I don’t remember. I went up and I lost it in the lights for a second and when I saw it I just tried to give a last effort. Next thing you know I was flipping over,” Hunter said.

“I got up high and it flipped me over. I was going full speed back and it just flipped me over and I went over and kind of landed awkward. It knocked the wind out of me a little bit.”

If there’s one outfielder in Ortiz’s mind that could make that play, Hunter is the guy.

“Torii always scares me,” Ortiz said. “I grew up playing with Torii. He's one of the best outfielders I ever saw in my life. Torii can chase balls out there. This guy went from playing center field to right field, and I wouldn't be surprised if he got a Gold Glove again this year.

“I saw on the video and the reason why I think he didn't catch that ball is because the ball takes like a left turn when he was going right. And, looked to me like he kind of touched it. But that's Torii. Torii is a trooper out there, man. And he's fun to watch.”

Horgan had the best view of the entire play.

Like many of the Red Sox players and their fans, Horgan started to grow his beard at the start of the playoffs. The beard is a combination of dark and white colors and he’s only trimmed it once since he began to grow it. Now, he says he’s not touching it. Even his boss, who was standing nearby after the game, told him not to shave it.

After the game, Horgan stood in the players’ parking lot behind the Red Sox clubhouse as players were leaving. A few shook his hand. Then, Red Sox owner John Henry was leaving when his wife, Linda, introduced her husband to Horgan. The two shook hands and took a picture together with Horgan recreating his celebratory pose.

This is Horgan’s first full season patrolling the Red Sox bullpen. It’s now a good luck detail for the Red Sox and chances are he’ll keep that post for the foreseeable future.

“It’s awesome. The guys are great. The players are great and the coaches are really great,” he said.