Big Papi visits Raynham to promote smoky new side business

Tony Ramos holds a banjo made from a Big Papi cigar box as former Red Sox hitter David Ortiz signs a box for a fan. –Geoffrey Brennan

Famed former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz paid a visit to a Raynham smoke shop Tuesday night hoping to hit a home run with his new business venture: cigars.

Ortiz started manufacturing the cigars last year when he needed something special to smoke at his annual charity golf tournament, said Brennan’s Smoke Shop owner Geoffrey Brennan.

“He got involved in blending it and making it his own cigar how he wanted it,’’ Brennan said. “People liked it so much, and it’s a good cigar, so they manufactured it.’’

The cigars are a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco and a box of 20 retails for $260, Brennan said. They’re full-bodied and flavorful, but not for amateurs, he added.

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“It’s kind of like his black bean salsa,’’ Brennan said. “It’s like you’re tasting things the way he likes them – a little spicy. Not too spicy, just a little bit.’’

Brennan is a fan of the cigar – but he’s admittedly an even bigger fan of Big Papi. He described waking up after spending the evening with the baseball star as a “Big Papi hangover.’’

“He is the nicest guy,’’ Brennan said. “If you know anything about him and you think he can’t be the way he seems, you’re wrong because he is the nicest, most down-to-earth guy you’ve ever met. I’ve met famous people and try to stay calm, but he just brings this vibe with him everywhere he goes. It’s just great.’’

About 100 people came to the shop Tuesday to meet Big Papi, Brennan said, with memorabilia in tow for him to sign.

“Everybody that came to meet him, met him, and they got to take some pictures,’’ he said. “He signed everything people brought with them – David Ortiz bridge signs, jerseys, bobbleheads.’’

Brennan said he also signed a number of boxes of cigars that are still for sale at the store. Brennan said his goal is to keep Big Papi cigars “prevalent in this market.’’

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“I spent more money advertising that event than I’ll ever make on those cigars, but I felt like it’s so important for that cigar to be successful in this area that I don’t care,’’ he said.

“What that man did for this city, for this state, and for New England is priceless. To meet him and actually have him be the person he seems … he does not let anybody down.’’

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