Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has accomplished a great deal during his iconic career, but battling zombies in a post-apocalyptic future isn’t one of them.
At least not until an independent developer created a modification to the video game “Fallout 4” that allows players to control a baseball bat wielding character resembling the Red Sox designated hitter, complete with his No. 34 jersey.
The game takes place in a futuristic version of Boston, which shows the crumbling remains of a doomed city overtaken by mutants. Fenway Park is featured as one of the city’s landmarks in the game, which is what led Richie Branson to develop the modification to include Ortiz in an effort to make the game more authentic.
Apparently Major League Baseball wasn’t thrilled with one of their players being portrayed as a mutant-hunting killer.
"“The use of these marks is an infringement of our rights,” an MLB spokesperson told the Boston Globe. “We plan to enforce those rights.”"
Modifications by developers to add free downloadable content to existing game features are fairly common in the gaming world, which is why Branson was caught off guard by MLB’s response. He’s not looking to make any money at their expense, it was simply a feature that he added to make the game more fun for Red Sox fans that played the game.
"“I’m not trying to sell this counterfeit Red Sox jersey,” Branson explained to the Boston Globe. “I’m putting a free Red Sox graphic into a game that already insinuates the Red Sox are in the game, at Fenway Park.”"
The video game portrays Fenway as a shelter for survivors where players are able to obtain a plain white baseball jersey for their character to wear. Branson used his Photoshop skills to alter the details of the jersey to add the Red Sox logo on the front, along with Ortiz’s name and number on the back.
As Branson puts it, Ortiz’s massive frame and powerful swing of the bat make him the ideal choice to survive the apocalypse. MLB isn’t necessarily disagreeing with that sentiment, but they would prefer not to have their players portrayed in such a violent manner.
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It’s unclear how far MLB intends to push the issue, but Branson says he will begrudgingly comply if served with a cease-and-desist order.
Few have pockets deep enough to take on an organization with the resources of MLB, especially if Branson isn’t making money off of his modification anyway. He was simply amused by the idea of Ortiz smashing his way through a hoard of zombies with a spiked bat and thought Red Sox fans would get a kick out of it. That was his only motivation.
While gamers may see this an attempt to squash a bit of harmless fun, MLB looks at it as protecting the image of a player that is supposed to be a role model for children. They would much prefer that image to be of Ortiz smashing home runs over the Green Monster rather than smashing the heads of actual monsters.
Ortiz is reportedly intending to retire following the 2016 season, but if MLB gets their way then he’ll be retired from the land of “Fallout 4” long before that.