If an openly gay player emerges on the Red Sox this season, it’s possible that the late mother of David Ortiz will have played a role in creating a welcoming environment.

Ortiz, speaking yesterday about having an openly gay teammate, said that his mother, Angela, taught him a valuable lesson about acceptance. He talked of having a childhood friend, who, he said, “we all knew, when he was 13, that he was gay. And he was always talking to my mother, telling her everything. They were close. And it was my mother who taught me to love people for who they are. That’s what she told me.”

These words from Ortiz, perhaps the most popular player in Major League Baseball, were delivered just one morning after Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets broke the “gay barrier” by becoming the first out athlete to play in any of the four North American major sports leagues.

Last May, following his eighth season in the National Basketball Association, Collins, now 35, made public his sexual orientation through an article in Sports Illustrated. He had not played in the NBA this season until Sunday, when he signed a 10-day contract with the Nets and later that night logged 11 minutes in his team’s 108-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Collins played 32 games for the Celtics last season, followed by six games with the Washington Wizards, before coming out.

“I’m pretty sure his opening up to the public and saying what he said, that (earned) him trust,” Ortiz said. “And just being himself, feeling comfortable with the real person that he is, has to help him. I think as a human, as a person, we need to accept people for the way they are. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what color you are, or coming out and what he said. I’m fine with that.

“I’m nobody to judge anyone.”

Ortiz made it clear, though, that he was speaking as an individual, not as a team spokesman. Asked, for instance, if Collins would be welcome if he were a baseball player hoping to join the Red Sox, the designated hitter said, “I don’t know. That’s a question that everybody needs to answer on his own. In my case, I love people the way they are.”

But Ortiz’ words are bound to carry significant weight — not just with the Sox, but, perhaps, throughout baseball.

He’s David Oritz.

This is a man who spoke for an entire region last April when, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, he stood in front of a packed house at Fenway Park and said, “This is our (expletive) city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom.”

And it was Ortiz, as his team was coming to bat in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, the Sox and Cardinals in a 1-1 tie, who pulled his teammates together in a corner of the dugout and delivered a spirited, impromptu speech. The Red Sox rallied for three runs that inning on a Dustin Pedroia single, a walk by Ortiz and a three-run homer by Jonny Gomes. The Sox emerged with a 4-2 victory.