Hanley Ramirez Really Loves Cheesecake, American Dads And David Ortiz
Hanley Ramirez has considered David Ortiz a father figure ever since the man affectionately known as "Big Papi" took him under his wing when he came into the MLB from the Dominican Republic. In an unsurprisingly endearing conversation between the two Red Sox stars as transcribed in The Player's Tribune, Ramirez and Ortiz laugh and reminisce about the start of their friendship; and how Ortiz, just eight year his senior, became family to a budding superstar who really needed a piece of home.
It's an interview that any baseball fan will enjoy, not just because it features two of the MLB's most recognizable players. It's the kind of insider stuff that will make you wish - if you don't already - that you could go have a "beeeeg Dominican lunch" with the two BFFs. But more importantly, it really delves into the importance of the familial bonds that Dominican players foster with fellow players in America.
Ortiz credits guys like Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek with changing his life in America, explaining that "without those guys and what they did for me, I don’t have the World Series rings. I don’t have this life for my kids." So it's no surprise that even though he was just a few years into his own big league career, he already had a reputation for understanding how difficult it was for young players from the Dominican to leave their families and transition to life in America.
"People don’t understand what he does for young players who come here from the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America," explained Ramirez, who went on to detail what it was like to leave his provincial life behind for the first time.
"I remember when I left the Dominican to come to the States, I left my mom and dad behind. It was just me. I have no brothers and sisters. And it was like … Wow. That was hard...Now it’s just me, and I don’t speak the language.
I remember I took the flight to Miami, then a bus to my hotel. When I got to my room, I was trying to find a way to call my mom. No cellphone. You couldn’t call the Dominican from the hotel. And it was an unbelievable feeling. I just had to fall asleep without telling my mom that I got there safe. I waited till the next day and tried to get a phone card. And finally I called my mom and she was just crying hard and I told her, “Everything’s gonna be fine.”
HANLEY, YOU ARE KILLING ME. I want to hug baby Hanley so hard right now. It's impossible to understand what that would really feel like, and how lonely and scary that would be at the age of 17, unless you have been through it. Of course, Ortiz wouldn't be Ortiz if he didn't insert his signature humor and lightheartedness into the conversation.
"Man, you had it good. At least in 2000 they had the little Nokia phones. I came here a few years before. I had so many calling cards, bro. These kids now don’t understand — back then, every time you got a chance to talk to your family, it was like a huge deal. It was unbelievable. People be crying."
One great way to age yourself when talking to anyone under the age of 25 is to bring up a calling card. Damn, now I feel old. The two men went on to discuss just want it means to be a family man and particularly a father in America; and they provide a unique perspective on just how lucky so many kids are here to grow up with parents who are able to be active in their kid's endeavors.
I can not believe how much time fathers spend with their kids in sports. That’s everything to them.
Well the thing is, our dads couldn’t do that. They didn’t have the time. They couldn’t come to Little League. They were too busy working to survive and put food on the table.
So I see these parents in America always taking their kids to school, always taking them to baseball practice, and it’s like, Wow. You know, that’s kind of like the American dream right there. Just to have the time to do that."
They went on to discuss how important it is to both of them to mix that American dream in with the deep love and respect of their Dominican culture, and Ortiz tells a story about his dad finally getting to watch him play baseball that will straight up rip your heart out of your chest.
Maybe the best part of the interview for die hard baseball fans though is the beginning, in which Ortiz tattles on Hanley for his love of cheesecake; and outs himself as an accomplice. Here are the two notorious food-lovers describing one of their nights out to dinner:
So one night, David says, 'What do you want for dessert?' I say, 'Cheesecake looks good.' Waiter comes back … grande cheesecake. I crush it. Second night, we go to dinner …
'What do you want for dessert?'
I’m looking at him like, Really, bro?"
Of course, being the big teddy bear that he is, Ortiz not only signed off on the cheesecake but tells a story about popping into the Cheesecake Factory on his way to Fenway to bring Hanley a slice in the clubhouse. And to end the interview, they bring it back to...you guessed it: cheesecake.
Hey, listen — listen. This guy works out like a damn football player, O.K.? This guy is a beast in the gym. When I first met him, he was 185 pounds. I was worried the wind was gonna blow him over. Let him have his grande cheesecake and be happy.
"Let him have his grande cheesecake and be happy" should be the official Father's Day motto. Ortiz for the win, yet again.
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