Even with all the statistics available these days, the on-field impact that David Ortiz had on baseball still seems immeasurable. This week, a little-known story from his minor league days brought to light the off-the-field impact the slugger had on a female reporter dealing with harassment.
Amy Donaldson of the Deseret News in Utah published a piece this week about an interaction she had with Ortiz while he was playing for the Triple-A Salt Lake Buzz early in his pro career.
Donaldson, who was transitioning from covering news to sports at the time, writes that she had dealt with harassment from male athletes in the clubhouse. During one interview, she noted, Ortiz stood up for her as his teammates seemingly laughed at her.
On this particular day, I stood in front of a mountain of a man asking him questions about his life as a minority man in a predominantly white community. It’s not the kind of conversation you want to have in a locker room of any kind, but Ortiz was the kind of guy who made anything easier.
I don’t know what happened to the left of us, I just heard the laughing. My eyes stayed locked on Ortiz, who without hesitating, turned to his teammates and sent a message that not only changed some of the behavior, it gave me an idea to prevent this situation.
“Hey, guys,” he said smiling and without raising his voice, “Leave her alone. She's just trying to do her job."
Then he turned back to me and continued whatever story he was telling me. No one got mad. No one responded. No one argued. And, not surprisingly, whatever was going on near us, stopped.
I left grateful for the interview, but more grateful for his decision to stand up for me. It came early in my sportswriting career, and it gave me the courage to ask team managers, owners and others for help in solving problems.