In a Friday session at the Globe Summit called “This is Our City: A Conversation with David Ortiz,” the 46-year-old held a wide-ranging sit-down interview in a Fenway Park suite with Boston Globe CEO Linda Henry, reflecting on matters both serious and light regarding his adopted city and career.
At one point, he was asked for his thoughts about the red seat in right field where a Ted Williams home run reportedly landed in 1946.
Ortiz’s initial response was a profanity weakly disguised as a sneeze.
“That seat is a joke,” said Ortiz, who kept looking over his shoulder to look at the spot with disbelief. “There is no chance in hell a human being can hit that red seat.”
Ortiz noted that it was a big deal when he hit Bobby Doerr’s retired No. 1 sign on the right-field façade during batting practice, yet Williams’s seat is about 25 rows behind that.
“Bottom line, man, if you don’t show me a video, I won’t believe it.”
As quick as he is to find humor in just about anything, Ortiz has a serious side — he calls it his “biz mode” — that during his career allowed him to focus on getting the most out of his teammates, as well as his own talent.
Saying he had “three, maybe two” of the five tools most All-Star caliber players possess, Ortiz said he used his mindset as his sixth tool to help him reach personal and team goals in the Boston pressure-cooker.
Through conversations early and throughout his career with mentors such as Kirby Puckett, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Mo Vaughn, Manny Ramirez, Mike Timlin, Kevin Millar, Dustin Pedroia, Carlos Delgado, Paul O’Neill, and Jason Giambi, Ortiz absorbed the lesson that having the right mental make-up was essential to finding success.
He tried to teach the same.
“I wanted to make sure whoever came to my team felt like he walked into the right pack,” said Ortiz. “I wanted to make everyone comfortable, I wanted you to get the memo about what you’re here for.”
Ortiz spoke movingly about how he nearly died more than three years ago after being shot at a bar in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
“Today, I’m perfectly fine, thank god,” said Ortiz, who this July was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first designated hitter to reach Cooperstown on the first ballot.
Now keeping busy with myriad endorsements, marketing, and broadcasting duties, Ortiz also makes the time to watch his 18-year-old son D’Angelo start his personal journey to become a professional baseball player. Calling D’Angelo, who spent the summer playing for the Brockton Rox, “a prototype” and “a really good combination of me and Tiff (D’Angelo’s mother), Ortiz said, “I don’t have to push him, I don’t have to tell him what to do, I just watch him.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.