In a piece on The Players' Tribune titled "Thanks for the memories, Boston," retired designated hitter David Ortiz wrote Monday that skipping out on a game with Pedro Martinez ended up being his big break.
A first-year member of the Red Sox back in 2003 who had yet to become a star, Ortiz wrote he was frustrated with his usage. Ortiz, who had pinch-hit for Martinez in a June game in Philadelphia, was pulled from the game in the eigthth inning when Martinez apparently told him to join him in playing hooky. Though Ortiz noted he was afraid of getting in trouble, he wrote that he joined Martinez as they went out to dinner.
Ortiz said he was between bites of chicken wings when he saw on TV that the game had gone into extra innings, and that the Red Sox had lost in 13 innings.
Ortiz wrote that he assumed the fallout from the incident would ruin him in Boston. As it turned out, it helped him get the regular at-bats he sought.
We end up losing the game in extra innings, and I come in the next day and.…
It was bad. It was really bad.
I was out of the lineup, of course. The media was pissed. Grady Little was pissed. I had to apologize to the whole team. I’m thinking, It’s over for me, for real.
Then something really crazy happened.
Two days later, I walk in the clubhouse at Fenway and my name is up on the board in the starting lineup. 1B: ORTIZ.
I’m like, For real? What’s going on?
I didn’t understand it, but Pedro was making a point. He wanted me to be in the lineup so bad that he was willing put his ass on the line with management. He went in to Grady Little’s office the day after we skipped school, and said, “Listen, that wasn’t David’s fault. I told him we were leaving. It was my idea.”
Grady said, “Are you crazy?”
And Pedro said, “No. You want me to re-sign in Boston, and I want to play with David Ortiz when I pitch. I believe in David.”
That was all it took. When a legend says that to you, I guess you pay attention. I never came out of the lineup after that.
Ortiz added in the piece that he is definitely retired, even though he went back to Fenway Park to work out shortly after the season ended.