If you’ve watched even a single Red Sox game on TV this season, you’ve almost certainly seen former slugger David Ortiz palling around with someone’s “cousin” from Boston in a Sam Adams beer commercial.
The winners of a Boston Beer Co. contest recently spent time with Ortiz at a Red Sox-Yankees game, where he also made himself available for an interview on beer, baseball, and family.
How did you get involved with Sam Adams? Were you a beer drinker before?
Beer wasn’t really my thing. I was a scotch guy. But then I went to the hospital for something that happened to me. [Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic in 2019.] So while I was watching commercials, the beer commercial kind of made me thirsty. And I told myself once I’m outta here and I can drink, I’m gonna crush beer.
What’s your favorite kind of beer?
What’s another beverage you enjoy?
I like scotch. I like to feel it right away. [laughs]
What’s your perfect meal, and what drink would you pair that with?
Sunday is my family day. I work a lot, during the week I’m kind of busy. But on Sunday I like to play music at home, salsa music. Then throw some steak on the grill, find some lobster because I live down in Miami, and some beer. Because Miami’s always hot, so out there you gotta keep it cool, you don’t wanna be dropping no scotch.
Do you still like coming to Fenway? And how often do you come?
I love coming to Fenway. I come during the season — I have a contract with the Red Sox as an adviser, so I come to Fenway probably five to eight times.
But every time I come here I love it. I get disconnected, but then I come here and I get connected with what I used to do.
What was your favorite place to hit a home run and why?
Besides here? New York. It used to get really loud when I used to walk to the plate, and then it used to get really quiet when I hit it.
Actually I loved New York fans. Because it wasn’t anything disrespectful. When they see me, they tell me, ‘Hey, I’m a Yankee fan, but I love you and I respect you.’ The only fans on the whole planet who say that.
In the 2013 World Series you hit .688. How did that feel, and what do you remember about it?
I don’t think Miami has gotten that hot. It was fun, man. Every time I wear this uniform is special for me, and I wanna do something for the fans. Thank God I got that hot, and we won the World Series. That was a very special time.
Do you have a favorite World Series? I assume 2004 is there because it was so momentous.
You know they all had something special. Remember the 2013 one, that was after the bombing here. It was like a town lifted. This was a distraction, you know, winning a World Series. That was very important. But 2004 was also very special, so I always have a hard time choosing just one.
What were your first impressions of Boston?
When I first got here I was just like a little kid, just looking at history and everything that this city had built throughout the years. But then things got serious once I got the shot to play. Boston is always going to be a special city in my heart.
Tell me a funny story about one of your former teammates.
Manny [Ramirez]. [Dustin] Pedroia used to be in the hot tub, and Manny used to just jump in with him. And I’m talking about a hot tub the size of this table right here. [We were at a small high top.] It wasn’t that big. We had so much fun back then.
If you could change one thing about baseball, what would it be?
Nowadays? I would probably promote baseball’s image better. Because those guys are out there doing a good job, but a lot of them walk down the street and nobody knows who they are.
What are your impressions of this year’s Red Sox?
Alex. Alex Cora, man, he knows how to put those kids on the same page and make them feel like wanting to go out there and get things done. And the pitching this year is way better than last year — having [Chris] Sale back is a plus. And the chemistry is back.
Does this team remind you of any that you were on?
Probably 2013. A lot of young, talented players. We had a down year the year before, and nobody thought we were going to bounce back and be that good the following season. These guys had a year last year that was bad, and look how they’re playing this year. It’s hard to change in baseball from one year to another.
Next year you’re potentially going to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. What are your thoughts, and project to me what you think is going to happen.
It’ll be an honor to be part of the Hall of Fame once I get the opportunity to be inducted. I don’t know when it’s going to happen but hopefully it will happen one day. It’s an elite group. When you become part of that, it’s a very special time.
Do you think you should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
To be honest with you, I did all I could control, play baseball and put up numbers. I can’t control nothing else. But I think I should. I’ve got the numbers, you know what I’m saying? We’ll see how that plays out.
A couple years ago your daughter, Alex, sang the national anthem here. Does she still sing?
Yeah, she’s going to Berklee now. She’s good, she’s got it going on.
Your son Di’Angelo, he plays baseball, right?
Yeah, he’s 17, he’s a big boy right now. He’s playing third base, he’s in high school now.
What are your thoughts on watching him play?
He wants it. That’s all I care about; you want it or you don’t. If you want it, you get closer to what you want to be. If you don’t want it and you’re trying for it, you’re never going to get there. I always wanna make sure that he educates himself, gets good grades, because that’s very important to me, too.
What’s something you’ve learned while being a dad?
You’ve gotta be patient. Patience is a good thing when you’re a dad, because I didn’t have much time to screw up when I was a kid, because I was always busy. You screwed up, but some kids more than some others. And then you grow up and you think that kids are not allowed to screw up. That’s when patience kicks in and says hey, take it easy, give them some space. I love my kids, I’ve got a really good relationship with them. They’re good kids, very respectful, very humble.
This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.