David Ortiz, as
his Red Sox teammates know from so many walk-off celebrations, is one huggable
lug of a guy, and as 10 Boston-area Boys & Girls Club members greeted him
in Fenway's outfield last month, they, too, felt the urge to merge. Said Taylor
Adams, 8, "I just really want to hug him." The 6'4", 230-pound
lefty, on hand to film an MLB public-service spot with the kids, promptly
scooped Taylor (right, in pink shirt) up in his massive arms while the others
shouted, "Me, too."
not to love Big Papi," said Frank Sanchez, a senior director of the Boys
& Girls Clubs of America, MLB's official charity, which runs programs for
some 4.4 million children each year.
Ortiz spent the
shoot divulging hitting tips. "Spit on your hands, clap and rub it in to
get you in the hitting mood," said Ortiz. "Then give the pitcher a mean
look, and dig into the dirt with your foot. It drives pitchers crazy. Then ask
the catcher how their mama's doing. If you get friendly with them, they might
give you something to hit."
The kids, ages
seven to 14, took turns hitting a ball off a tee, the longest drive coming from
13-year-old Rowanny Estrella (in red), whom Ortiz dubbed Mini-Manny after
teammate Manny Ramirez. Perhaps it was coincidence, or the ghosts of Fenway,
but the metal door of the Green Monster suddenly flew open. "Hey! It's
Manny's room," Ortiz said. "He likes it in there so much that sometimes
[during games] Manny just stays in there." The kids then went inside the
scoreboard, pretending to search for Ramirez.
shoot was edited to a 30-second spot that began airing this month and is, alas,
bereft of almost all of Ortiz's wise words, including his final advice.
"When you go to hit," the slugger told the kids, "you need to be
tranquilo. It means calm and relaxed--just chill out."