Cleat Geeks

Big Papi is like Uncle Papi

toriHunterJr.Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz kept it all in the baseball family for Saturday’s college football game between Boston College and No. 4 Notre Dame this past Saturday at Fenway Park.

At Ortiz’s request, Notre Dame wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., the son of recently retired MLB outfielder Torii Hunter, was to use Ortiz’s locker in the Red Sox home clubhouse.

You might be thinking that’s strange because it’s the Red Sox clubhouse and Boston College is playing in the game. It’s actually a home game for Notre Dame as part of the Shamrock Series, so it’s the Fighting Irish who will take up shop in the home clubhouse.

It was the first college football game to be played at Fenway Park since 1968. It represents a cool opportunity for every player involved, but serves as a very special opportunity for Hunter, whose father played 63 games and hit nine home runs at Fenway Park during his 19-year career.

Does Big Pappi deserve to be in the baseball Hall of Fame? Listen to the latest MLB Headfirst Slide Podcast at this link and hear what the person who wrote this article had to say about that.

“It’s going to be a cool experience, especially the fact that I’m not playing baseball there is going to be pretty weird,” Hunter told the media this week. “It’s going to be a pretty cool experience. I’ve seen the field, the setup looks pretty cool. I’m looking forward to it.”

BOSTON - OCTOBER 14: Detroit's Torii Hunter falls into the bullpen trying to catch Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz's home run that tied the game in the eighth inning. The Boston Red Sox hosted the Detroit Tigers in Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

BOSTON – OCTOBER 14: Detroit’s Torii Hunter falls into the bullpen trying to catch Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz’s home run that tied the game in the eighth inning. The Boston Red Sox hosted the Detroit Tigers in Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Hunter was also said to be measuring up the right field wall outside the Red Sox bullpen, which was the scene for perhaps the most infamous play of father Torii’s career. It happened during Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS as Hunter raced back attempting to track a long fly ball hit by Ortiz. The ball ended up clearing the fence for a grand slam, and Hunter ended up flipping over for the wall resulting in an iconic image.

Was he planning a possible touchdown celebration paying tribute to that moment be in the works?

“I said that, but I’m kind of nervous now,” Hunter said with a smile. “I don’t want to get flagged if I do it during a game. If it happened naturally, that would be epic. I’m sure they’ll make a big deal about it on Twitter and Instagram.”

Notre Dame obviously had more on their minds, like keeping their season on track and perhaps competing for a national championship. That can still happen if they win out, and in many ways it would be fitting for Hunter if Saturday’s game at Fenway played a part in making that happen.

But for me, the fact that David Ortiz opened up his heart, and his locker to a son of a former player was a winning gesture. Something he did not have to do, and something Tori Hunter Jr. won’t soon forget, from his Uncle Pappi.

 

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