12/12/2007 12:23 PM ET
David Ortiz: Putting the D.R. on the map
I love playing baseball and doing my part to put my native Dominican Republic on the map. I try to represent my country well.
When I talk to people in the United States about the D.R., I'm surprised to find so many who think the Dominican is somewhere in Mexico. I've always found that to be weird. Can't people just look at a map? It's an island -- a long way from Mexico and everything else.
The Dominican Republic and Dominican people, however, are making some progress. A lot of that has to do with baseball players who come here. We gained a lot of attention with our club in the World Baseball Classic.
I was born in Santo Domingo, which is a very nice place. The city has a lot of great people and the town has also produced a lot of great baseball players. There's a long list of great players to come out of my hometown -- players like Sammy Sosa, Pedro Guerrero and Juan Marichal, to name a few. My favorite player to watch, though, was Raul Mondesi.
My Red Sox teammate, Manny Ramirez, is also from Santo Domingo. Julio Lugo and Julian Tavarez are also from the Dominican.
I grew up in a small family. I have two sisters. They both still live in the Dominican Republic. They come and see me here once in a while. In the winter, I go back and forth between Boston and the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic borders Haiti. The Dominican, though, takes up about three-quarters of the island. I have no idea why Haiti does not produce good baseball players. In fact, I've never been there.
In addition to playing baseball as a kid, I also played a lot of basketball. I was probably a better basketball player back then compared to baseball. I'm 6-foot-4 now and I had my growth spurt at about 14 or 15. In basketball I played center.
I also watched more basketball than baseball as a kid. I loved to watch the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. Once I signed my first baseball contract, I stopped playing basketball. I don't play basketball anymore. I guess you could say that I'm too old for that now.
David Ortiz continued his run of success in Boston in 2007 as he clubbed 35 home runs and drove in 117 runs. He also hit a career-high .332, topping the .301 average he posted in 2004. Ortiz has hit 199 homers with the Sox since 2003.