There are two things I'll never forget about witnessing the Mother's Day Miracle (aside from how the game ended, of course): how bitterly cold I was, in standing room for most of the game on the first base side of the State Street Pavilion, and seeing D'Angelo Ortiz.
Because my friend Iain and I were frozen and tired, we decided not to go walk on the basepaths after the game*, and thus, it was by sheer stroke of luck that we still caught sight of D'Angelo that day.
At the last moment, though, lingering in the grandstand standing room area before leaving the park, we spotted a tiny figure at the plate in a red Ortiz jersey. His halo of springy curls was already unmistakable, given he'd already begun appearing in public with his Papi from time to time.
He was standing at the plate when we saw him that Mother's Day, looking in the general direction of the pitcher's mound, holding his empty hands as if he had a bat. "Huh," I said. "I guess he's a righty."
Then he turned around.
"Nope," I laughed, thinking it was a joke. "Switch-hitter."
Turns out it's not such a joke anymore.
Dad doesn't switch hit, he says in the interview above, with Steve Silva of Boston.com, letting through a wry smile. "Or...he doesn't hit fly balls," D'Angelo equivocates in the end. He is shown in the batting cage, hitting lobs from both sides.
"In Little League, I play all of the positions," he says, shrugging a little. He is shown pitching. Hucking the ball with all his might from the shallow outfield.
Papi says in the video D'Angelo is already fascinated by baseball on TV -- an interest his father didn't share with him at the same age. And there's an edge to D's voice, a pointed glare into the camera, that doesn't quite match his unfailingly good-natured father's demeanor when he says -- twice -- that Jacoby Ellsbury is his favorite player on the Red Sox besides his Dad. He still walks in the protective shadow of his father, but he is also, clearly, his own fierce little person.
He's shown developing a handshake with (I think) Marco Scutaro, standing around with a group of big leaguers waiting at the batting cage like he's one of them, not just somebody's kid fooling around underfoot.
When he was only a preschooler after that game back in 2007, it was a bit too soon to tell if he was just mimicking Dad or not. Here, he does genuinely seem to be showing his own, inborn -- but different -- love for baseball.
Still, he is so young -- he'll turn seven on July 10. Young enough, in fact, that all of this makes me worry for him just a little a bit, especially during the part where he says, "I never knew I was going to be this famous." So many things can still happen, and so many things still have to fall into place, that it's still unfair to put any kind of big-league expectations on him.
But then you watch him, toward the end of the video, already tall and strong for his age, striding with agile assurance toward the clubhouse at City of Palms Park. He is wearing his own uniform, his glove and bat already looking like extensions of his hands. And it's equally hard not to let in a whimsical thought or two, in this spring season of endless possibility, about whether we're already getting to see a new star of the game emerge.
* For anyone unfamiliar with recent Fenway Park traditions on Mother's and Father's Day, fans had been invited to 'run the bases' (really more like mill around on them) after the game. The tie-in with Mother's and Father's Day is that the parents being honored that particular day and their kids can run the bases together, but it was my understanding at the time that they wouldn't turn us away if we weren't accompanying a kid, so we'd thought about it, given Iain had come all the way from Paris...