Pablo Sandoval, David Ortiz, Santa Claus?
From Babe Ruth, to David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox have benefited from jolly, big men in red-and-white outfits.
Forget the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ for a second. George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth was one of the best Red Sox players to play the game, in his shortened time with the organization. Ruth actually started for the Red Sox as a pitcher, recording an 89-46 record, while he also hit .308 with 82 doubles, 30 triples, 49 home runs, and 224 RBIs in six seasons. He even had 13 stolen bases and had more walks than he did strikeouts (190 to 184). Ruth went on to pitch just under 30 innings of consecutive scoreless innings in World Series games, showing a talent for winning championships on the mound (1915, 1916, and 1918). Not bad for a man who is more commonly known as an overweight ball basher, in every sense of the word.
The Sultan of Swat may have had to switch his red socks for New York Yankees pinstripes, but the one thing that never changed was Ruth’s love for children. On BabeRuthCentral.com, the many stories of Ruth’s generosity to children are recounted, with a picture of the ‘Santa Babe’ surrounded by children:
"“During his baseball career and retirement, Babe always made efforts with kids and those who helped him. The stories abound. At the height of his fame, Babe hardly ever passed up a request to visit an orphanage or a sick child in the hospital. He always spent time patientaly signing baseballs for each and every youngster who waited for him before and after games, as well as in public appearances later in life. As another example, St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore suffered a major fire in the 1930′s, which caused significant damage to the main building. In response, Babe organized a fundraising drive that generated over $100,000 – a substantial amount of money in those days — for repairs and rebuilding.”"
Ruth was Santa Claus, bringing ‘Christmas’ to every child any chance he could. Whether in Boston or New York, his bowl full of jelly shook with laughter and joy.
David Ortiz, the Red Sox’ designated hitter and face of the franchise, has also made it a mission to put smiles on people’s faces, especially children. MLB.com’s Ian Browne wrote a report on December 24, 2010 about Ortiz’s exploits in that area:
"“At the event at his restaurant, families paid $20 each for a Breakfast with Big Papi event at which they got to pose for a picture with Ortiz and, oh, yeah, Santa Claus. All the proceeds went to the Globe Santa Fund, which is the Boston Globe’s annual appeal for money, so that thousands of needy children across Eastern Massachusetts who might not otherwise get gifts will have things to open on Christmas morning.”"
Ortiz knows that his presence, humility, and indescribable joy make the children happy. He told reporters, “Kids are like the future of life. You need to try to teach them how to do the right thing, even though they might not have what everybody would like as a kid. Any time you can bring happiness to kids, you have to” (Browne).
His play on the field is only the start of that process. In twelve seasons with the Red Sox, Ortiz has hit .290 and has 1295 RBIs, including 408 home runs, excluding his first six seasons in Minnesota. His production helped the Red Sox win three World Series championships, ironically, the same amount that Ruth won in Boston. Ortiz’s first win broke the supposed curse that Ruth’s departure caused all of those years ago. Ortiz’s last win in 2013 was masterful, seen in the dugout firing up his teammates and putting them on his back, as he hit .688, with two home runs, six RBIs, and won the most valuable player award against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The most telling of Ortiz’s commitment to the Red Sox and the community, though, is where he resides. “Boston has become his family’s primary home during his time with the Red Sox. While hardly any of the Red Sox players maintain New England roots during the cold winter months, Ortiz and his family are fixtures” (Browne). The man is from the Dominican Republic and he has money to build his family’s life anywhere he wishes, and yet the place where his biggest fans live is where they call home. That sense of community is what sets him apart from other professional athletes. His love of the New England community makes him Santa Claus off as well as on the field, giving back as much as he can, while smiling all the way.
Pablo Sandoval has the potential to be the next Santa Claus for Red Sox Nation. His talent is unquestionable, hitting .294, 106 home runs, and 462 RBIs in seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He also helped to bring three World Series Championships to his team, especially in 2012 by hitting three home runs and four RBIs, winning the MVP award against the Detroit Tigers. What sets Sandoval apart from the other acquisitions that the Red Sox brass gained this offseason is Pablo’s appeal to children. His nickname alone screams children’s delight: Kung Fu Panda. The 5’11”, 245 lbs of a Venezuelan third baseman nimbly fields the position, while blasting balls everywhere, to the joy of the fans.
Boston is banking on that play to continue in Fenway Park. Sandoval, judging by the smiles in every photo he takes after signing with the Red Sox, looks to be following in Big Papi’s footsteps. Will he bring as much joy as Ortiz has in the modern era? Will he be the next ‘Santa Claus’ to Beantown’s children, as Babe Ruth was so many years ago? Time will tell, but for the present day, Red Sox Nation is excited to open that gift in April.