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An Evening With David Ortiz

Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell

Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum

While the Red Sox were on the road, I won a raffle at work, getting two tickets to an event in Lowell.  The Celebrity Forum is held annually to support Middlesex Community College, and this year’s celebrity guest was David Ortiz, interviewed by WBZ’s Dan Roche.  As we waited for the doors of the auditorium to open, we saw that one of the World Series trophies was on display outside.  A closer look revealed that it was the one from 2013, which once spent the day at my house.  It was all over social media that today was “Best Friends’ Day,” so I joked (to my “other” best friend) how appropriate it was that I could see “my” trophy on that day.

Big Papi took the stage at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium

Big Papi took the stage at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

When we had gone in and taken our seats, there were some opening remarks and presentations to scholarship winners, and then the man of the hour took the stage.  A few days earlier Pedro Martinez had teased in a tweet that Papi was still in baseball shape and the Red Sox could use another bat, so Papi opened by joking that he had an announcement to make about that, then giggled and admitted, “No, I’m not coming back.”

Papi laughs at his own joke about making a comeback.

Papi laughs at his own joke about making a comeback.

Prompted by Dan Roche, he talked for over an hour, and had the audience laughing throughout the night.  When asked about having his number 34 retired by the Red Sox later in the month, he told a story I hadn’t heard before.  He said he never thought much about the retired numbers until one day in batting practice he smacked a drive off Bobby Doerr’s number 1 on the right field façade.  That led him to find out more about the other players whose numbers had been retired, and he realized what an honor it was that thousands of players have suited up for the Red Sox and only a handful are immortalized.  He then reminisced what a great influence Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008, had on him.

Look at those shoes! Dan Roche joked that they were worth more than his house, car, and everything he owns put together.

Look at those shoes! Dan Roche joked that they were worth more than his house, car, and everything he owns put together.

When asked if he had thought about someday being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he told another new story.  His father visited Cooperstown for the first time in the summer of 2004, and he was in awe of Babe Ruth’s bat, knowing that Ruth was one of the best hitters of all time.  “But what about the Curse?” someone in his party asked him.  Papi’s father had never heard of the Curse of the Bambino, and they filled him in on the supposed reason the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years.  So he held the bat in his hands and spoke to it.  When he returned from his trip he couldn’t wait to call David and say, “Did you know about this curse?  I got rid of it for you.”  That fall the Sox went on to win the Championship, and apparently we have Papi’s papi to thank.

"Let me be honest with you, bro."

"Let me be honest with you, bro."

Over the course of the hour, Papi talked about some of his favorite teammates:  Kevin Millar, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia.  He’s famous for not being able to remember anybody’s name, and Dan Roche told his own story about that.  Millar once bet Roche that Papi didn’t know his name.  Roche was confident that he did, as they had a good relationship and he covered the team for many years.  So Millar marched him up to Ortiz’s locker and asked, “What’s his name?” to which Papi responded with a smile and a nice, generic “Heyyyy!”

Papi kept us smiling all night with his anecdotes.

Papi kept us smiling all night with his anecdotes.

Asked about longtime teammate Dustin Pedroia, Papi said “that little guy” doesn’t care about anything besides baseball.  “His wife could be hurting, he could have a kid missing, and he’d be like, ‘Kelli, I’ll be back at 11, figure it out.’”

David Ortiz expounds on his theories on life.

David Ortiz expounds on his theories on life.

Toward the end of the night, Roche introduced the “Lightning Round,” where they would play word association.  Papi’s responses kept us laughing.

Big Papi's stories made for a fun night.

Big Papi's stories made for a fun night.

Roche also asked about David Price’s recent spat with the media.  “Let me be honest with you, bro,” Papi said.  “The media here sucks.”  Roche feigned hurt feelings as a member of the media and asked, “Wait, all media?  There must be some who are good.  Who’s your favorite reporter?”  Papi just smiled, pointed at Roche, and said, “Heyyyy!”

Joe Giza, sports producer at WBZ-TV, posted some video clips from the night.  Here’s Papi talking about his number being retired and a short clip from the lightning round.

June 8, 2017 • Posted in: Events • Share on Facebook

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