Big Papi

Congratulations to David Ortiz, better known as Big Papi, for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame – one of only three designated hitters, DH, to receive that honor.

I was glued to the television when the Red Sox had their own tribute to Big Papi.

Note the player in the front, Pedro Martinez.  More on him.

Big Papi is a hero to many, and not just because of baseball.  He has character; goodness, humor, a never-give-up attitude, and he’s a leader.  We need heroes like Big Papi.  He quietly gives to children and charities.  He loudly supports Boston.  He was the one who spoke up after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon years ago to say “We are Boston Strong.”  That phrase became iconic and still sticks today.  Big Papi exemplifies what I teach children.

When asked his favorite Red Sox moment, here is a photo that tells the story:

Early in his career, Torii Hunter was dubbed “Spider-Man” for his acrobatic, wall-scaling catches but perhaps “Daredevil” is the more apt comic book comparison. After all, Hunter is, clearly, the outfielder without fear.

The 38-year-old, nine-time Gold Glove Award winner put his fearlessness on display yet again with an all-out attempt to rob Red Sox slugger David Ortiz of a game-tying, grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. Despite the best effort of the Tigers’ right fielder, the deep drive off the bat of Ortiz carried just over the wall into the home bullpen at Fenway Park — and Hunter followed.

Of course I have my own story.  “It happened like this…”

Growing up in Huntington, West Virginia, the closest major league baseball team was the Cincinnati Reds.  My dad would drive us to Cincinnati every summer.  He desperately wanted to go to the ball park and see a game.  In the car, we had to listen to baseball on the radio.  I wanted rock and roll, not baseball.  I wanted to shop at stores with my mom (who didn’t like any sports) and go to the zoo.  My sister went to the ballpark with our dad, and I went shopping with our mother.

Fast forward to getting married, and finally learning about the great sport of baseball.  I loved watching the Cincinnati Reds, especially “Charlie Hustle”, Pete Rose.

And then we moved to Massachusetts.  The first Red Sox player I loved was Pedro Martinez (the one in the photo.)  Interestingly, one of the parents in my class that year had her son in the same school with Pedro’s son, Little Pedro.  Well…of course I wrote a letter.  This was my first brave, reach-out letter.  I invited Pedro and his son to our class to hang out, read a story, and make a special snack.  I talked about Groton’s lack of diversity, and how a casual ‘hang out’ would do wonders for the children.  No baseball, just kids.

I didn’t hear back from Pedro.  He was doing other things at the time, like trying to get David Ortiz onto the Red Sox team.  They were friends, and thanks to Pedro, it happened.

Watching Big Papi play baseball was always exciting, especially his swing of the bat.  It must have been the same for fans who watched Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, or other great ball players.  I watched one of the greats, too.

My cross to bear is that I never went to a baseball game with my dad.  I think he is smiling up in heaven, knowing that I finally ‘found’ baseball, even on the radio.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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33 Responses to Big Papi

  1. Darlene says:

    Another great, “It happened like this” story.

  2. Ritu says:

    Fantastic story, Jennie!

  3. I greatly enjoyed your “It happened like this” story!

  4. beetleypete says:

    The only thing I know about baseball is from films.
    ‘A League of Their Own’.
    ‘Field of Dreams’.
    ‘The Babe’.
    ‘Bull Durham’
    ‘The Natural’.
    I have seen all of those, even though I have no interest in the sport. They are all good films.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    What stood out to me when watching Big Papi play baseball was how much he seemed to enjoy the game. It’s also a testament to his perseverance because, in the first five years of his career, he never hit 20 home runs. When he got to Boston, his career took off.

    Your memories made me think of my childhood, listening on the radio to Jack Buck Sr. (his son is a sports broadcaster on Fox) on KMOX in St. Louis. I laid in bed in our North Dakota home, listening to the broadcast and marveling at how Buck’s words could paint such a vivid picture. If I hadn’t become a teacher, I might have gone to broadcasting school to announce sports.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks for the stats, Pete. Yes, as soon as he came to Boston he took off. When sports heroes are genuine good guys, they are the role models.

      When we moved into our current house in 2002, it was the first time we had a pool. We spent summer evenings and late afternoons listening to the Red Sox on the radio. What a treat! I finally discovered baseball on the radio. Good announcers can make the game come alive with their words. Well, as much as you liked Jack Buck on the radio, I’m glad you decided to become a teacher. 😀

  6. Great tribute….. As you may be aware here in the UK…. I have no clue to any of your players LOL…. But I know how big the sport is,
    Sending love for your weekend Jennie ❤

  7. quiall says:

    Well they do say better late than never. He’s probably looking down from the bleachers in heaven and smiling. Angels versus Devils and the bases are loaded?

  8. beth says:

    I’m sure your dad would be proud and happy, and big papi sounds like a wonderful man, I know he’s been a wonderful player. I remember them showing that torii hunter catch over and over here!)

  9. This is a charming post, Jennie. Hugs on the wing.

  10. Dan Antion says:

    I don’t follow the Red Sox, Jennie (or the Reds for that matter) but I read a lot about Big Papi while living here in New England. I’ve only been to Fenway once, but I managed to get there before he retired.

  11. Don Ostertag says:

    Why is it no surprise to me that you are a baseball fan, Jennie.
    I loved Big Papi but I loved him before the fans in Boston did. I loved him when he was in the MN Twins farm system and his brief time with the Twins before they traded him to Boston. He got traded for next to nothing because he kept getting hurt and because he couldn’t crack the first base position and it was unthinkable to pay a player just to DH. I did enjoy watching Tori Hunter during his years with the Twins. He was just before two other great Twins centerfielders, Kirby Puckett and now Bryan Buxton, who is better than any of the others.
    And of course I my heart leapt when two of my favorite players, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat were finally given their just due in the HOF. Tony, what a great human being, is still active in the Twins organization, and Jim will certainly get another HOF position as a baseball announcer.
    What wonderful additions to the HOF!!!

    • Jennie says:

      This was a wonderful backstory on Ortiz, and some great history of the Twins. Of course you’re a Minnesota Twins supporter! Torii Hunter’s efforts on catching that ball are noteworthy. It seems that HOF players are also terrific human beings. That’s a good thing! I had to read your comment aloud to Hubby, who is far more a baseball fan. He knew every Twins player and nodded his head (and smiled) in agreement of your assessment. He said, “Please tell Don he is correct, and also tell him we know Boston was lucky to get David Ortiz.” Thank you, Don. Yes, what wonderful additions into the HOF.

  12. Thanks for sharing this interesting story, Jennie! I have to admit, that i am so far away from sports watching, like the earth from the sun. Lol xx Michael

  13. We were Reds fans too!! I still have a place in my heart for them. Nice post and I like Big Papi.

  14. bosssybabe says:

    Aw Jennie, I love that you grew to love baseball just like your dad! I can tell you’re a big fan just by the way you write! No matter where you are, you always seem to think of others and how you can help make a great impact on a young life, I love that about you so much!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Jen. I am a fan, and I think my dad would be proud. You are right, I do try to make an impact on children’s lives. I feel I’ve been given an opportunity for a special mission. It’s wonderful!

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