“Do mythical creatures exist?” began Gordon Edes’ Boston Globe article about remarkable Red Sox baseball slugger David Ortiz (pictured below). After reading the piece, it became crystal clear to me why Ortiz should be signed longterm for the Boston Red Sox. He likes cryptozoology!
Okay, okay. Maybe it’s because he’s a great baseball player too.
Ortiz broke Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx’s long-standing Red Sox record of 50 home-runs, with #51 against the Twins, on September 21, 2006. That night, I talked with my son Malcolm right after Ortiz launched the ball over the centerfield fence, as we often share baseball moments like this one, even though he was away at college in Boston.
What did I discover? Malcolm was at the Red Sox game with his old high school buddies Scott and Mike that night. It’s a small world, after all.
(And now Malcolm works for the Red Sox, via his NESN associate producer’s job with Tom Caron’s pre-game show.)
On the morning of September 22, 2006, I read the Boston Globe recap of the game, and my sense of worlds merging was greatly reinforced.
David Ortiz is a cryptozoology fan, of sorts.
Edes writes in “Papi Makes History”:
Do mythical creatures exist? David Ortiz pondered as much this afternoon as he sat in front of a laptop in the Red Sox clubhouse, reading an e-mail from a friend who had attached a photo taken in Boca Chica, a seaside village in his native Dominican Republic.
‘‘Look,’’ he said, pointing to what appeared to be a female form, her face covered by a white shroud, washed up onto a beach, except that there was a fishtail where there should have been legs. ‘‘A mermaid. Is it real? I don’t know. It was all over the news in the Dominican.’’
Can you believe your own eyes? That was a question more easily answered for those present tonight at Fenway Park when Ortiz in his first at-bat did some mythmaking of his own, hitting his 51st home run of the season, breaking the club record set in 1938 by Jimmie Foxx, a Hall of Famer. Ortiz would add his own coda to this historic night by hitting another home run, No. 52, in his last at-bat during a 6-0 Boston victory over the Minnesota Twins before a crowd of 36,434.
Edes’ description of Ortiz and the home run is almost poetic:
At the sound of bat meeting ball, and the sight of the ball soaring high into the cool autumn-like night, Ortiz’s teammates rushed to the railing of the dugout, and the crowd rose as one, exploding with joy when the ball cleared the Sox bullpen and landed a few rows beyond.
With that swing, Ortiz, the son of a humble man, Enrique Ortiz, who sold auto parts in Santo Domingo, etched his name in the Red Sox record book, replacing that of Foxx, the son of Dell and Mattie Foxx, tenant farmers in Sudlersville, Md. Big Papi, trumping Double X, whose record had stood the test of other sluggers, from Ted Williams to Yaz, Jim Rice to Mo Vaughn, for 68 years.
The sounds of ‘‘The Natural’’ played over the ballpark PA system as Ortiz circled the bases, and ‘‘51’’ flashed repeatedly on the video scoreboard….
As Ortiz crossed the plate, he performed the ritual that follows each of his home runs, gently kissing the tips of his fingers and pointing to the sky, in tribute to his beloved mother, Angela Rosa Arias, who died in a car accident four years ago and whose visage is etched on Ortiz’s giant biceps.
David Ortiz is more than his monster home runs, of course, as he has become an important contributor to the community of Boston and to his native Dominican Republic.
Oh yes, back to the mermaid that Ortiz saw on the computer screen in the shadow of Fenway Park’s Green Monster.
A fascinating cryptid mystery perhaps, but it really has little to do with reality, unless created reality is your cup of tea. Ortiz’s home runs are hundreds of times more real than the beached mermaid.
The photographs (seen here) had floated around the Internet since August 2006, starting their journey from eBay and other sites, being re-labeled and manipulated by many webmasters.
What is this mermaid? Was it beached somewhere in the Dominican Republic? Actually, it is an excellent taxidermy creation, a piece of art, from Miami artist Juan Cabana, who is well-known for his fake Feejee Mermaids. It probably was photographed in Florida. (Below is one of Cabana’s smaller “mermaids” in my collection and now in the International Cryptozoology Museum.)
Ortiz, a cryptozoology fan? Who would have guessed?
So, Mr. David Ortiz, please keep searching for cryptozoology answers with us (including visiting the museum in Portland). And we shall all keep enjoying your home runs.