By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – David Ortiz, affectionately known as “Big Papi,” to his millions of fans, is of course, a Boston Red Sox legend. But there is a whole legion of youngsters who do not know him for his baseball heroics or really even know who he is. Still, to them, he is a real life hero. That’s because these children, who have significant cardiac health concerns, have been helped through his foundation, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.
On July 11, Ortiz paid a visit to Julio’s Liquors in Westborough to sign bottles from his signature Arias Wine Collection. Patrons were given the opportunity to purchase a case ahead of time and then meet Ortiz and have their photo taken with him at the signing. Monies from the sale, as well as a contribution from Julio’s, were to be donated to the fund.
Fans young and old, and many wearing shirts bearing his name, lined up for the opportunity. They cheered as he entered the store, flashing that huge happy smile that is as well-known as his hitting prowess.
Prior to the signing, Ortiz spoke to reporters for a few minutes about what life is like for him now that’s he has retired from his playing career and why he is so committed to his very busy life.
“I’m always working, man, I’m always working. I have to pay for college – I have one in there now and the other soon, so I have too,” he joked. “My wife and kids are always complaining that I work too much but I get to spend a lot more time with them now.”
“But life is good, man, life is good,” he added.
Even though he is not actively playing baseball anymore, he still takes his responsibility as a celebrity very seriously he said, as he strives to serve as an inspiration to others.
“I’m not perfect but I try to get better at everything I do every day,” he said. “I’m always continuing to do different things. You have to keep learning and try to have a full life. You never know what you are capable of unless you try.”
One of those initiatives he continues to work on is his foundation.
“Kids, its all about the kids. I am just crazy about them,” he said. “I am a parent myself. I know how hard it is for some parents who have to pay for their kids’ medical expenses. I think its really important to be able to give back to others if you can.”
Founded in 2007, the fund provides essential support for children in Ortiz’s native Dominican Republic and in New England who cannot afford the critical cardiac services they need. Last year, Ortiz’s annual golf tournament raised a record $1.2 million for the fund.
As part of the special signing, Julio’s Liquors donated $12 from each case sold to the Ortiz fund.
Prior to the signing, Julio’s owner Ryan Maloney presented a check for $2000 to Ortiz.
As each patron came up to Ortiz to get their bottle and photo, it was evident that Big Papi still holds a special place in the hearts of all of his fans. And as that big smile flashed time and time again, it was evident, the feeling was indeed, mutual.