Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz spent his most recent Saturday morning as a guest at a massive memorabilia show in Marlborough, Mass. Many of his Red Sox teammates joined Ortiz, along with Joe Montana, Ray Bourque and others, as the object of fans adoration. Not particularly uncomfortable in such a setting, Ortiz told Big League Stew in a phone interview that he gets just as excited about sports memorabilia as the fans asking for his autograph.
"I have all kinds of memorabilia in my house, just about everything you could imagine," Ortiz said. "I've got plenty. Trophies I've won, the team has won.
"But I tell you what: My favorite is one that is harder to get. It's a Barry Bonds autographed jersey. I asked him personally, it was a long time ago. And I was kind of afraid of doing it because people are always saying that he doesn't really like to sign. But I asked and he said he would be happy to sign for me."
So, Ortiz has survived going up to Barry Bonds. What else makes him hesitate when it comes to signing?
"Do you really want me to tell you?" Ortiz asked.
"Boobs," he said, laughing like a little kid.
"I mean, you know what? What can I tell you. Sometimes you just go with the flow, even though everyone's just looking at you, like, just to see what your reaction is going to be. But it happens when you're signing autographs sometimes. I'll do it, but it's not like I really like it."
Of course not!
At 38 years old, Ortiz — like Bonds in his time — continues to hit at a high level when most his age already have quit playing. Though he's cooled off lately (as have the Red Sox), Ortiz still is batting .275/.371/.521 with 11 homers. Pretty good for an older guy. How long will he go? Ortiz has 442 career homers, so 500 would take a push. Regardless, he figures to be a strong Hall of Fame candidate once he's on the ballot, though some voters probably will hold Ortiz's primary position (designated hitter) against him. And an allegation of PED use in 2003 is sure to be revisited.
Ortiz doesn't seem driven to accumulate more homers. Only to win.
"I'm going to play baseball as long as I can," Ortiz said. "If it (500) happens, fine, if it doesn't... winning World Series are more important than that."
Ortiz appeared at the show, organized by Fanatics Authentic, which also specializes in selling memorabilia online. If you happened to miss Ortiz in Boston, or don't have a chance to roll the dice at Fenway Park or another stadium around the majors for an in-person autograph, signed Ortiz memorabilia can be bought online at Fanatics Authentic.
Ortiz's own signature looks more like two index fingers pointing at you than it does "David Ortiz," but he says his autograph hasn't changed much over the years. He'll add a "Big Papi" inscription because people ask. Ortiz is one of those celebrities who probably is called by his nickname as much or more than his given name. But he's not going to change it legally:
"My dad will kill me," Ortiz said with another laugh.
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