Papi, my Papi

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drop cap When I was a kid I used to send letters to Carl Yastrzemski. At least once a year I would sit down and write to the Red Sox legend. Sometimes I would send a card and ask for his autograph, but just as often I simply asked him to write me back and tell me how he was doing. Sadly, he never did.

I am not sure why I chose Yaz to be my penpal. Heck, he wasn’t even my favorite Red Sox player. That was Dwight Evans and by the time I really understood baseball Yaz was retired. Honestly, he wasn’t even the best living Red Sox legend. That was Ted Williams, although I think I was probably too young to realize that when I started my letter-writing campaign. Maybe it was because Yaz was there on that hot August night back in the late 1970’s when my lifetime love affair with the Red Sox began in Arlington, Texas. He was their best player then. Well, maybe. He was certainly the face of the team and I guess that was good enough for a kid who was actively rooting against his home team, for a group of ballplayers from Boston who he should have had no link to. Whatever the case, Yaz was the face of the Red Sox for me when I was a kid and I wanted a moment of his time that I never got.

Fast-forward 30-something years and the face of the Red Sox for the better part of my adult life is readying himself for his final run through the big leagues. I am speaking of the greatest Red Sox hitter since Williams, the most clutch postseason player the game has ever known, my Big Papi, David Ortiz. At the conclusion of last season, Papi announced this would be the final year of his glorious career and almost immediately I began to wonder if, perhaps, there might be a chance for me to get some face time with him before he departs the game. Honestly, this is not a new idea. In fact, every time I see Ortiz give a hug to a teammate following a home run I have said to my wife that I would like to be on the receiving end of one of Papi’s hugs. Just one time. She usually laughed, but I know she knew I was serious and so, as this will be my last chance, I am officially launching my campaign to meet David Ortiz this season. I am not asking for much of his time, maybe just a handshake and a quick photo. I will be in Houston when the Red Sox play there in April so I think that would be a perfect time to do it. If not there, then I am willing to travel. Papi, you name the time and place and I will make sure I am there.

If you are reading this column and you have a connection to Ortiz or the Sox, then I need your help. Let him know I am looking for him. Let him know how much it would mean for me to meet him and, who knows, maybe he can deliver where Yaz never did. Maybe this lifelong Red Sox fan will finally get his minute with one of the greatest Red Sox of all time.