David Ortiz has the build of a baseball slugger and chronic foot issues, but the former Red Sox star still thinks he might have been able to run a marathon at his athletic peak.
“When I was younger, I used to run long distance because I used to worry so much about being able to get through all my training,” Ortiz told Boston.com. “I think I could have done it, like, 20 years ago.”
For the fourth straight year, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund is sponsoring a team of runners in the Boston Marathon, with the goal this year of raising $150,000 for children in the Dominican Republic and New England who need critical cardiac care and cannot afford it. Ortiz and the team are raising money through a variety of methods, including a memorabilia auction, merchandise sales, and a contest to attend Red Sox opening day and the team’s World Series ring ceremony with Ortiz, powered by fund-raising platform Omaze.
While Ortiz will be in the Dominican Republic on Marathon Monday, he said that he planned to meet with all of the DOCF runners beforehand to convey how important their efforts are to him.
“I want them to know we are 100 percent behind them,” Ortiz said. “We’re always thankful for them on behalf of all the children.”
In retirement, Ortiz has kept busy. Along with his charitable efforts, he has continued his analyst work with Fox Sports and paid two visits to Sox training camp this offseason.
“I’ve been in camp twice this year,” Ortiz said. “I always go down there to check up on the guys, give them advice. The team loves it when guys like myself, Pedro [Martinez], [Jason] Varitek, [Tim] Wakefield, we come around.”
As for a former teammate who might be best suited to finish a full 26.2, Ortiz endorsed former Sox ace Martinez.
“Pedro was the type of guy who loved the distance running preparation,” Ortiz said. “Pedro would be one of the guys that I would pick to do that. Also, remember, Pedro’s not a big guy like me, so that would probably work in his favor.”
Beyond assisting Sox spring training invitees, there’s one more young slugger whom Big Papi wants to concentrate on teaching: his 14-year-old son, D’Angelo.
“This summer, I want to focus a little bit on D’Angelo, who is working extremely hard because he loves baseball so much,” Ortiz said. “I hope I can spend some time working with him this summer vacation.”