There is officially no doubt that Boston loves David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz.
As Big Papi’s retirement from the Boston Red Sox gets closer, Bostonians are showing the Dominican baseball player just how much he means to the fans. Ortiz has been giving Red Sox fans games to remember for the past 14 years, and his amazing kindness will surely be missed. Like, who can forget the time he hit a home run for his littlest and most inspiring fan? Since announcing his retirement, the team and fans have been trying to honor Ortiz at every turn. Some have been pretty successful, like the corn maze. Others, like the bobble head doll, haven’t been as well received.
This week, David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s Lego statue was debuted in Fenway Park.
“Lego Master Builder Erik Varszegi oversaw the construction of Lego Ortiz at the company’s North American headquarters in Enfield, Connecticut,” Steve Saleeba, from the public relations firm Elevate, told The Boston Globe.
“That’s a very iconic pose for David Ortiz,” Varszegi told The Boston Globe. “Either that or a nice power swing. Either one of them would have been great, but the Red Sox were kind of steering us towards this direction, and I’m pleased with how it came out.”
From the looks of it, Ortiz is definitely proud of the 34,510 LEGO block statue honoring the athlete.
While it’s been two years since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the recovery efforts aren’t finishing anytime soon. Many people on the island are still trying to put their lives back together, which includes rebuilding homes, churches, and schools. What many might not know is the recovery efforts have also included revitalizing baseball fields on the island where Puerto Ricans once played.
Among the destruction that both Hurricanes Irma and Maria left in 2017 is more than 300 small league baseball parks that were found inoperative. As a result, many community ball programs were essentially eliminated and youths on the island were essentially left in the dark without fields to play the sport.
Leading the revitalization efforts are Puerto Rico’s own two native sons: Bad Bunny and Marc Anthony. The duo, along with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a U.S. community development non-profit, has teamed up for a new program called Play Ball Again. The purpose of the initiative will be to help rebuild some of those damaged baseball fields and facilitate local programming for 17,500 youth. It is expected that in total, about 300 facilities will be impacted by this initiative.
The duo hopes the contributions play a huge role in bringing not only baseball back to the island but a place where people can escape from their worries.
The initiative is special to both of them not only because they’re helping youth but they hoping these recovery efforts go a long way in bringing back a sense of community. Maestro Cares Foundation, which Anthony owns, is putting money towards the program with a goal of restoring “normalcy” in Puerto Rico.
“Sports and recreation activities help restore a sense of normalcy, in the wake of disasters,” Anthony, who is among the program’s earliest supporters, said in a press release.” Baseball isn’t just a game in this context. It helps young people do better in school and improves family life and health in difficult circumstances.”
Maestro Cares, along with the Good Bunny Foundation and UNICEF USA, will all be putting forth $300,000 of what LISC expects to be more than $1.6 million in baseball field renovations. Joining the efforts is Chicago Cubs second baseman Javi Baez with his Cubs Charities, which will donate an additional $100,000 in support. This also includes the Kohler Company, which made a donation to fund bathroom fixtures for onsite facilities.
“Two years after these devastating storms, the need to rebuild the island remains strong,” Báez, whose family is from the Bayamón area, said in a press release. “Cubs Charities understood the need and has stepped up to the plate to help restore baseball fields and give kids throughout Puerto Rico the opportunity to play the game. This rebuild will make a big difference for the community, and I am proud to continue my efforts to restore the island.”
The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico have been long and tiresome but the fuel behind the revitalization has always been the people.
While time may have passed, many on the island of Puerto Rico are still trying to get back on their feet. For Bad Bunny, he knows firsthand the power that activities like baseball have on youth. Growing up, baseball was part of his life and much of his time was spent at many of the ballparks that were destroyed in 2017.
“Growing up on the island I spent a lot of time in some of these parks that are now destroyed,” says Bad Bunny, whose Good Bunny Foundation is part of the initiative. “In parks similar to these, a lot of great athletes like Roberto Clemente, Yadier Molina, Roberto Alomar, Edgar Martinez, and Ivan Rodriguez grew up. Our commitment is to rebuild these parks so that we can help new athletes grow. This is the first step for the rebirth of sports within the island.”
The rebirth of Puerto Rico is taking time but in that process, there is a sense that an even stronger community will come out of this disaster. While simple things like baseball may not seem significant, it’s a part of the fabric of Puerto Rico and displays the love that is shared playing on a field. This rebirth has already started as construction on the baseball field is underway and most field renovations are set for completion by the 2020 season.
In the history of major league baseball, there have been dozens upon dozens of players that were born in Mexico. It’s no secret that major league baseball is home to many Latino players, but when they’re from Mexico and play for the Los Angeles Dodgers it’s even more special. Now, there’s a new member of the Dodger family — a young man with a dream to play in the major leagues.
The L.A. Dodgers signed an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher, with a 93-mph fastball, from Jalisco, Mexico.
Octavio Becerra, from Capilla de Guadalupe, Jalisco, was formerly a player for the Mexican team Aguascalientes Rieleros, when a scout, Juvenal Soto, saw him play. In an interview with Primer Impacto, Becerra recalls the day that a Soto saw him play in Mexico. He said he was pitching like normal. He said the two were talking and then Soto asked him about his pitching technique. The scout then said, “I’ll be back soon with some news.” Soto wasn’t kidding. An hour and a half later, he returned to tell him that he was signed to play for the Dodgers.
Back home in Jalisco, when Becerra wasn’t playing for his local baseball team, he was working at a taco restaurant.
Becerra stayed busy as a waiter, a cook, and a delivery guy at a taco eatery in his home state. His boss playfully said that if he doesn’t make it in the major leagues he can always work as a waiter at Taco Bell. All joking aside, his boss told Primer Impacto that he wished the best for the young man.
As a new player for the Dodgers, Becerra’s contract requires a start in the minor leagues. Dodgers Nation said he is the “most highly-touted prospect.”
According to the Dodgers Nation, “Becerra has thrown just 18 1/3 innings for the Aguascalientes of the Mexican League across two seasons, posting a 9.82 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Take these stats with a grain of salt considering Becerra is playing in a league where the average age is 29.6 years old at just 18.” They add, “He was ranked as the #1 prospect in La Liga Mexicana de Beisból coming into the 2019 season. That is a high-profile signing considering his potential and experience in one of the world’s premier leagues outside of the United States.”
His mom got emotional when recalling all of the hard work he has put into his passion, and all of the support she has given him over the years.
His mom told Primer Impacto that ever since Becerra was a little boy he always had a plastic bat and helmet and practice playing. He has played baseball his entire life. She said parents must always support their children whatever their passion is. She said that by supporting their children in anything they do, that is the only way they can ever achieve success.
She’s not the only one that is proud of his success. His home team in Jalisco is thrilled for the young player.
“We are very proud to be able to present Octavio’s signature today with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which as we know is an organization that has always trusted the Mexican baseball player, we wish the greatest success for Octavio, because we know that today It is the first step to achieve the dream of reaching the majors, he is a player with discipline and a lot of work, so we are sure he will have a career full of successes,” the President of the Club Rieleros, José Eustacio Álvarez said.
Becerra said signing the contract came with many emotions. He said it was a moment he always dreamed about but wasn’t sure it would come true.
“I am very happy and very proud of what is happening; Suddenly one feels sad because if you are in the first team you suddenly return to the Academy,” he said according to the Aguascalientes Rieleros Facebook page. “But I feared it with a great philosophy and I decided that I would do my best, I started working hard because I knew that some team of Big League could look at me; then it came out that I was the prospect 1 of the entire League and it was an extra motivation to achieve the goal, which fortunately today is met, with this signature with the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
Well, we couldn’t more excited to have a Mexican player on the team. Congrats, Octavio!