Ben and I went to bed early for a Saturday night. Well, early for me and normal for him. We were in bed by 9 PM and Stacey and James were still awake when we both fell asleep. It was decided that Ben and I would sleep in one bed and James and Stacey in the other. We both slept soundly. At 6 AM I heard/felt him slip out of bed. He had decided to get an early start. I was up an out of bed at 6:15 and he was already dressed in his David Ortiz jersey and ready to go. I got up and dressed. James was awake when I finished so we told him to tell his mom that we would be back and Ben and I went out for a walk.
It was raining so I had checked the weather report and it said it would stop by noon. Ben and I borrowed umbrellas from the hotel and started to head towards Fenway Park. We had brought a sheet from home to use for a sign, but, we had forgotten markers. We had also left our rain ponchos in the car. The car was in the valet at the hotel and I didn’t feel like getting the car out just for that. I had seen a CVS store near Fenway on my travels yesterday so I thought we would stop there. It also meant that Ben could see Fenway during a quiet rainy morning. I was a little afraid I would tire him out, but, he was doing so well I thought it would be worth it.
We talked about a lot of things while we were walking. Even in the rain he was overjoyed. His one concern was that they might cancel the game. I told him not to worry about it. I also told him that even if the game was cancelled there was still a really good chance that he would get to meet David Ortiz. I asked him several times if he was ok or getting wet from the rain. He said he was fine and that the rain was only getting him a little wet. It was a misty, drizzling rain that was blowing slightly under the umbrellas. As we moved closer and closer to Fenway you could sense his excitement growing. We arrived at the corner where Gate A is and he just stopped and looked at the park. There was nobody around. We walked around the side and down Yawkey St. I told him how the street would be closed later that day and filled with people. I pointed out where we would meet Lisa at Gate D around 10:15. We turned the corner and headed toward the statue of Ted Williams and the little boy. On the side of the stadium there are banners listing the names of famous players and the player numbers that have been retired. Ben asked where David Ortiz’s name was. I explained that he was still playing and that the last player to have his name up there was Wade Boggs. He looked at the banners and said, “Someday there is going to be one for David Ortiz and the number 34 is going to be on the wall too.” I told him that was likely to happen. He said, “I can’t wait to see it.” As we arrived at the statue Ben asked me who the player was and I told him. He said, “That’s the player the taxi driver talked about yesterday.” Told him yes and he said, “It’s really nice he is giving the little boy his hat.” I asked him if he noticed anything special about the little boy. He said, “He has the number 9 on his shirt….Hey, he’s bald like me.” I said, “Yes he is…” I choked up a little and Ben looked up at me and said, “Take my picture next to the statue.” I could tell he noticed me choking up and my eyes getting a little teary. I took a couple of pictures as he posed. He said, “ok, that’s enough.” Then came over to me and gave me a hug. We turned and headed to the CVS store to dry off and get sign making supplies. We also purchased some Red Sox plastic ponchos and a couple of car magnets. The ponchos are the wear them once and they are done type of ponchos. We never did actually use them. The car magnets were immediately put to use as soon as we had access to our vehicles.
When we were in the store Ben told me how much fun he was having. He also said it was great to just go for a walk with me. As we headed back to the hotel I talked about a time I ran with a friend through a blinding rain storm and we ended up jumping in puddles because we couldn’t possibly get any wetter. He laughed and told me that sounded silly. I didn’t even have to talk him out of puddle jumping on the way back to the hotel though. He didn’t want to get his David Ortiz jersey wet.
We arrived at the hotel and created the sign while Stacey finished getting ready. Ben James and I cut up the sheet that Stacey had packed and wrote “Let’s Go Red Sox!” and The Green Drakkoman loves DAVID ORTIZ! on it with the Green Drakkoman logo. We packed everything up and headed out fr breakfast and to go back to Fenway Park.
Ben was way ahead of us on the return trip. He knew the way and there were more people on the streets even though it was 10 am and the game didn’t start until after 1. As the four of us drew closer to the park Ben started to skip and almost dance his way towards Gate A. I tried reining him in, but, it was easier to just try to keep up with him. As we turned the corner of Yawkey St there was Lisa and her husband. We greeted each other and told her once again what a special thing she was doing. I know she could see it in our eyes as she looked at Stacey and I and said, “Come on let’s head to Gate D before we all start crying.” We ended up waiting for quite a while outside the Gate. The rain had messed things up a bit. They weren’t doing batting practice outside and some other things were delayed. We didn’t worry and the boys did an amazing job of being patient. While we were waiting Lisa introduces us to John Corcoran who is one of the owners of Charity Wines. It is through her relationship with Charity Wines that this was all possible. As many of you know we weren’t sure if James was going to get to meet David Ortiz. John came to us and said, “We aren’t sure what is going to happen when we get inside. Tell James to just stay next to his brother and don’t say anything like, ‘I don’t know if I going to get to meet David Ortiz.’ ‘Will I be able to…” and hopefully everyone will get to meet him.” All I could think was, “I love this man. He thinks like me.” Needless to say everything worked out well and we would all got to be there to meet David Ortiz.
Before we met him we were taken on a small tour of the stadium. The tour was really cool. We found out that the seats we would later sit in were installed in 1910. The wood was still hard and people had smaller butts back then. We also were able to sit in the Green Monster seats. I can only say one thing about them…”Wow, what a view and way to see a game.” I and the boys hope we can get to go back to a game and sit there some time.
The tour was interrupted so we could go down into the park to wait to see David Ortiz. We ended up waiting for a really long time. Once again the boys were absolutely amazing. I have never, ever seen that much patience from 8 year olds. I think the adults were starting to lose it. After what seemed like an eternity we were told it would just be a few more minutes. Then they came back and said a few more minutes. A few minutes more. Then we were told that David would only have 20 minutes to send with the 20 of us. Then they came back and said 15 minutes. Finally we were told we would be lucky to see him for 5 minutes. At that moment almost in unison all the adults, except Stacey and me, said to the Red Sox Ambassador that was our guide, “No Matter what he gets to meet David Ortiz and get something signed.” as they pointed at Ben. Then one of the added, ”And his twin brother too.” I was amazed with the exception of 2 of the adults we had never met any of these people. Some of them were generational Red Sox fans who had traveled great distances to be here. They were all willing to give up the chance to meet David Ortiz for the opportunity to witness Ben meeting him. At last avid Ortiz came out through the door and Ben and James approached him. The boys said hello and politely asked him to sign the baseballs they had brought. He is 6’4” tall and exudes the power of a linebacker. At the same time you feel his power you feel this kind, gentleness and care as he greeted the children in the party. There was a sense of playfulness as he posed with the kids. Something he has to have done thousands and thousands of times. Yet the children felt like he was theirs alone. Ben gave him one of the Green Drakkoman pins and a bracelet. James gave him a cardboard envelope that contained their Little League pictures that they had autographed for him. He smiled as he looked in the envelope thinkng it contained a picture of him that they wanted to have signed. He handed all of the objects to an assistant that was standing slightly to the side and rear. James and Ben posed and then Ben asked him to sign his head. Ben looked up at him and said, “They told us we could each only ask you to sign one thing. Since I had my ball signed my ad has said his one thing could be my head because I wanted you to sign that too.” I guarantee you that David Ortiz has never signed a little boys bald head before. He asked Ben to repeat the request because wasn’t sure he heard correctly. He then looked up at me, Sharpie in hand, and asked, “Are you sure?” I shrugged as I nodded and said, “Yes.” Ben presented his head to David Ortiz with the respectful bow of a martial arts master and David Ortiz carefully steadied his head with one hand and signed Ben’s head. It was truly a magical moment and the look on David Ortiz’s face was that of a father. Everyone in the party was able to meet David Ortiz and get something signed. As David turned to go back in the clubhouse James realized he hadn’t been able to get a picture with him alone with David Ortiz. e ran to try to catch him before he was completely inside the door. I thought it was too late, but, David heard James over the noise of Fenway. He turned and listened as James explained the matter. He stepped next to James and put his arm around him as we took their picture. He then thanked James and went inside. It was about 30 minutes before the game would start.
I can tell you one thing. Ben’s head has never been photographed as much as it was in Fenway. The game was wonderful and when we walked through the aisles to get food people did double takes as Ben passed. Ladies came up to him and asked who had signed his head. One of the ladies sitting behind us took a couple of pictures of the boys and asked for our email address to send them to us. She also took a picture of us holding up our sign. Our seats were behind home plate just inside the blue seats – about 20 rows back. We were being careful not to hold it up too long when David Ortiz was coming up to bat. Just before his at bat in the 8th inning we held it up quickly. As we brought it down the young woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “NO, hold it up longer. He might see it. It’s ok.” We did and David Ortiz hit a triple. He rarely hits triples and hadn’t since August of 2007. The fans around us attributed that triple to Ben and the Green Drakkoman. We even managed to get shown on national TV. By the time the game was over Stacey had 4 calls on her cell phone. We had an amazing time at the game. I was amazed at how friendly everyone was. What a blast. I have never sung a Neil Diamond tune (Sweet Caroline) at the top of my lungs with so many people before…and I was sober too. Around the 4th inning Ben leaned across James and his mother and said to me, “I can’t wait to do this with my children.” We smiled at each other and I agreed. As I sat back and saw that he was engrossed in the game I cried a few tears. Tears of absolute joy that we were sharing this amazing day together as a family. I thought back to a day earlier in the summer when for a brief moment I couldn’t imagine such a wonderful day happening and the world was just so bright. I will never, never, ever be able to thank Lisa P., the folks at CharityWines.com, David Ortiz or Jenn H. for the gift that they made possible for our family on a beautiful, rainy, overcast day in Boston.
On the ride home after the game we all basked in an after glow of fun. James asked, “Can we go back to Boston next week?” Ben said, “This was the best weekend of my life.” James added, “Of our lives.”