Thursday, September 21, 2006

Repeat Yourself

Every day belongs to history, but not every day feels 'historic'. Last night David Ortiz, a Twins' castoff, tied the Red Sox single season home run record (50) of Jimmy Foxx, against the Twins. Tonight Ortiz eclipsed Foxx, slugging his record-breaker against the best pitcher in the AL, Johann Santana. Ortiz shot reminded me of the blasts Harmon Killebrew hit, carrying almost endlessly courtesy of backspin, this one landing behind the Red Sox bullpen. Later, the Sox fan favorite clubbed his fifty-second homer to punctuate the achievement.

The 2006 season had become what might have been, instead of what we hoped it would become. An All-Star start turned into a second half nightmare. Inconsistency, injury and the serious illness of promising lefthander Jon Lester, made us pine for another time.

Those of us on the wrong side of fifty have seen great sluggers of Red Sox history grace Fenway Park. I'm not quite old enough to remember Ted Williams swing in person, but his 521 homers recall that sweet swing. In the sixties, Carl Yastrzemski and Rico Petrocelli did the long-ball damage, with too short a span for Tony C. Let's not totally forget Dick 'Dr. Strangeglove' Stuart. The seventies gave us the 'modern' expansion of Red Sox lore, with Rice and Lynn, Yaz, Fisk, Evans, Hobson and more, driving them from the ballyard. Without Bernie Carbo's blast, Fisk never gets a chance for heroics. The eighties was still a time for Evans, and Tony Armas, too. And recent times meant Manny and Ortiz.

Sox fans remember the great enemy sluggers, too. The Yankees brought Mantle and Maris, and Reg-gie, the Orioles had the Robinsons and Boog Powell, Detroit Kaline, Willie Horton, and Gates Brown. Canseco and McGwire stir memories, as do Larry Hisle, Frank Howard, Rocky Colavito, Travis Hafner, Fred McGriff, Albert Belle, and more.

Yet Ortiz rules the roost among the Red Sox greatest sluggers, not only for what he brings to the plate, but his presence in the clubhouse, and the community. While some Sox might revel in being idiots, Ortiz reigned with dignity, grace, and smiles.

As great as he has been, he has been underappreciated for his unique talent, to come in cold off the bench, drive in runners and send baseballs far into the night.

Thank you for your redemption of this disappointing and frustrating season. Your smile lights up the ballpark. And that is a very good deed.

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