The Boston Red Sox have always, somehow, worked their way into my life.
Now remember, I was born and raised a Dodgers fan. I mean, I came from a serious Dodgers family. On most nights at our home, the TV wasn’t on, and we would listen to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett tell us how Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy and Willie Davis and the rest of those L.A. Bums were doing. To this day, Sandy Koufax remains my all-time, most-revered baseball hero.
But, as I do, I digress.
While living most of my years in Dodger Blue and trying for four decades to embrace Mariners Teal, the boys from Boston insisted on being a part of my life.
I remember being at a party at the Columbia Athletic Club in Mill Creek and watching that famous “Buckner ball” incident (he, a former Dodger) and having Boston snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, which resulted in losing another World Series.
Years later, a recruiter for Boston University passed through the Northwest and captured the interest of my son, Tyson, who packed up and headed to Beantown. Because of that connection, I began following the Red Sox more closely. It was during his sophomore year that they finally broke the ‘Curse of Ruth’ and won a World Series. It was that team that I got to know really well, including Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and a guy nicknamed ‘Big Papi’, David Ortiz.
Snuck into Fenway a couple of times
On a business trip to Toronto in 2007, not long after I landed, I was whisked away to a Blue Jays home game, with great seats down behind home plate. No sooner had I sat down than Manny and Mr. Ortiz came out of the dugout and practically walked in front of me. I will never forget that moment.
As Pedro retired and headed to the broadcast booth and Manny’s faded off into the sunset, David Ortiz became the grand old man of the game and pretty much the soul of the Boston Red Sox. From the Dominican Republic, he took his adopted home town of Boston very seriously, and when the Boston Marathon bombing took place, it was Big Papi who address the crowd when it was decided we must continue what we’re doing or the terrorists win. Yes, he dropped an F-bomb during his passionate speech, but no one seemed to care. Well, except the TV censors.
Then the shocking news this week out of his home country that someone had tried to basically assassinate David Ortiz. Six people have been arrested, we’re hearing that they were paid $7,800 to take him out. Why? Who’s behind it? More to come, but a sad twist to his post-baseball life.
My David Ortiz Red Sox t-shirt now has even more special meaning. It sounds like he’ll recover and may I just suggest to him to spend a little more time up north where you are and will always be loved by fans.
Oh, and one other connection baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest share with David Ortiz–he started out his professional baseball career as a Seattle Mariner.
Back in 1996, the Seattle Mariners had a loaded roster: Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez. They were trying to win a close wild-card race and believed they felt they could do better than third baseman Russ Davis. So, on August 29th, they sent a minor leaguer to the Minnesota Twins after the season in exchange for veteran Dave Hollins.
Which made Seattle the only team to ever trade David Ortiz. What did Minnesota do with him? Released him after the 2002 season. Then it was off to Boston and the rest is Red Sox history.
The nighly news is crammed full of disturbing stories, but this one really hit. Maybe this explains why I’ve just had this unsettled feeling all week. Bottom line–Don’t go messin’ with my Big Papi!
Get well, Mr. Ortiz.