Baseball legend David Ortiz, also known as ‘Big Papi’ by fans, says he “felt like a kid again” helping loanDepot unveil a newly renovated baseball field for the Boys & Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor.
Ortiz tells PEOPLE that he wanted to work with the Boys & Girls Club because giving back is important to him, especially when it comes to encouraging young people to be active.
“A lot of people still struggle with having facilities where they can go play sports,” ele explica.
The 46-year-old Hall-of-Famer partnered with Major League Baseball sponsor loanDepot to unveil the new and improved field at the 18-acre Wilmington Athletic Complex.
Ortiz says resources, especially for kids to practice baseball, “weren’t available for the last few years, so loanDepot came in” and renovated three baseball and softball fields.
The athlete spent the afternoon teaching local kids some of his best baseball techniques, which Ortiz says “was a lot of fun.”
“eu amo isso. I’m always down with helping [crianças] to focus on the good things, the good side of life, and teach them what I know.”
Ortiz says the new field “is awesome” and will allow youth in the community to “get out and move their bodies,” which the athlete says is crucial for young people. “I can tell you, it’s good for you.”
After the unveiling, Ortiz said, “It was an honor and a lot of fun to teach these kids a bit about the game that gave me such an important sense of home, as well as mentors to look up to over the decades.”
“I hope with these new fields, baseball can give to them what the sport has given to me,” ele adiciona.
Additional improvements are still being made to the club, according to loanDepot.
Ortiz was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in July. He delivered an emotional speech during his induction ceremony.
“From my family to coaches to teammates to fans, no I could not have done this without you,” the 46-year-old athlete told the crowd. “My Hall of Fame plaque represents each one of you and I’m going to thank you guys for the rest of my life.”
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“I have always tried to live my life in a way to support others that make a positive influence in the world,” said Ortiz. “Before I was Big Papi, before the Red Sox, before the Twins, I was just a kid playing ball in the Dominican Republic.”
Ortiz was the 58th player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and is also the youngest player to achieve baseball immortality at age 46. “I learned not so long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot. It’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in,” said Ortiz.