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Posts Tagged ‘David Ortiz’


There are so many feelings going through my head after news that Boston City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo announced his candidacy for mayor, making him the first Latino in the city’s history to run for this post.

The strongest feeling, of course, is one of pride and joy. Arroyo is a Boston boricua, the son-in-law of Hector Luis Acevedo, a former mayor of San Juan. Having lived and worked in my adopted home city since 1986, yesterday’s announcement marked another turning point that Boston is indeed a changing city, one that is changing for the better.

Felix Arroyo

I have rarely felt like this during my time in the self-proclaimed Hub of the Universe, since to me, Boston has always been a city of separate neighborhoods that rarely get connected. The city’s ugly racial past of the 1970s, based on a failed social experiment, lingered for a while—yes, even on the Harvard campus in the mid-1980s. There was this unspoken rule in Boston that the city’s neighborhoods should never mix. The city was segregated: Bostonians would converge in the city’s downtown center for work each day, but when it was time to go home, different groups of people when to their different neighborhoods. Don’t cause any problems. Just know your place.

That image of Boston, of course, has changed, especially with the city’s perceptions of Latinos. I have always credited this to the Red Sox. I have been going to Fenway Park since 1986, and as much as I have always loved it, I truly fell madly in love with it when Pedro Martínez started pitching for the team in the late 1990s. The atmosphere whenever Pedro pitched was magical, but it also brought out so many fans who would have never gone to a Red Sox game before Pedro pitched. Spanish conversations became more common in the stands, Dominican flags flew, and when I heard 440’s “Guavaberry” over the stadium’s speakers for the first time, I knew that a another real part of the city, one that was rarely seen inside one of the city’s most beloved gathering places, was starting to show up.

Then, David Ortiz became a legend in 2004, and all of a sudden it was cool to be Latino in Boston. The Big Papi Effect did more for Boston Latinos than almost anything else. We had arrived.

Arroyo’s news is just the latest example. Boston’s Latino population continues to grow rapidly, and it is part of the reason that Boston is now a “majority-minority city,” which means that “53 percent of residents are of a non-white race/ethnicity.” I do believe that Arroyo will attract new Latino voters, no doubt. But don’t take my word for it, I will let my good friend and fellow WGBH Radio contributor Marcela García explain. Last night, Marcela talked Arroyo on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” show.

Arroyo’s bid matters. Is it on the same level as when the city’s Irish population earned their political stripes at the turn of the century, culminating in the mayoral reign of James Michael Curley? I would argue yes. Granted, Arroyo might not win this year (it is going to be a tough race), but if Boston Latinos want to be part of the city’s political structure, they need to start somewhere. Arroyo could be that.

Yes, Marcela is right that Arroyo would be the first person to shun the “first Latino candidate” label, but he will still energize people. And the other guest who disagreed with her, Jarrett Berrios (coincidentally a Harvard classmate of mine), misses the point. The city now had its first Latino candidate for mayor and Latino voters should just worry about the issues and think beyond ethnicity politics? Sorry, Jarrett, that argument doesn’t work. You seriously don’t think that ethnicity politics no longer occurs in Boston? Do I need to bring you to a South Boston union hall to show you that it still does?

Sure, Arroyo still has to prove himself, but let’s put this all into perspective. This is history.

“I am a son of Boston. I love my city. I love Boston. I believe in ­Boston because I know that by working together we can and we will move Boston forward.”

Spoken like a true Bostonian. Who also happens to be Puerto Rican and Latino. To me, that is a winning combination, and no one can kill my buzz this morning.

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It perplexes people who have known me for ages as well as my new friends who still bleed Yankee pinstripes. To them, I might as well be Benedict Arnold, Neville Chamberlain or the one who got Jesus nailed to a cross. We are talking serious issues here.



So, for all those who have asked me, “How the hell do you root for the Red Sox now?”, I will share my reasons as simply as possible, since I know Yankee fans can be a little bit slow when it comes to logic and reasoning (it’s because they listen to yahoo Yankee announcer John Sterling, the worst broadcaster in history).

But first, a little background: when I moved to the Bronx in 1976 from San Juan, I was already a huge baseball fan. The Pirates were my team…. for obvious reasons. Then my uncle took me to see Tom Seaver at Shea and I was hooked on NY baseball. I lived about 40 blocks from Yankee Stadium, down the Grand Concourse and of course, as a foolish and impressionable little boy, I became a Yankee fan.

It wasn’t hard: Phil Rizzuto, Willie Randolph, Craig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, and yes, of course: REG-GIE., REG-GIE, REG-GIE! I was at the 1977 World Series game where Jackson hit the three homers against the Dodgers to win the title for the Bombers. I met Dimaggio and Mantle. I also watched a game once from Steinbrenner’s luxury suite. Then Don Mattingly came along, and I wanted to bat left-handed.

Fast forward to 1986. Freshman year, Harvard. Mets-Red Sox. I had always thought that Yankee fans were pretty loyal, but when I caught the Bill Buckner game with my roommates and when one of them threw their TV out the window into Harvard Yard after the Sox blew the Series, I was intrigued. Still a Yankee fan, but intrigued.

1988. I entered Fenway Park for the first time. Mind you, having gone to games in Yankee Stadium and at Shea, I had no idea that a heavenly place such as Fenway even existed. 10 beers later (I had a GREAT Fake ID from Alaska!), I was hooked. But I still rooted for the Yankees.

Then Mattingly retired in 1993 (or was it 1994, when the Rangers won the FREAKIN STANLEY CUP). At the same time some Mexican kid with a funny name started playing for the Red Sox. By then, I was paying for about 10 games at Fenway, at a time when you could still walk up to a ticket booth and buy bleacher seats for $10. Nomar Garciaparra was everything I loved in a baseball player: play hard and ask questions later. Soon, NOMAH became my mantra.

Enter a little Dominican pitcher named Pedro Martínez and all of a sudden, Fenway felt like Santo Domingo whenever he pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees started feeling like Microsoft to me. Too rich. Too good. Too arrogant. Yes, I started fallen for the scorned lover.

2004. The year it became cool to say PAPI in Boston. Sure, Ortiz was on the juice, but for 48 hours in Boston when the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees (btw, AROD pickup annoyed the crap out of me), life in Boston was never better. People said hi on the train. Strangers held doors open for others. All because of the BIG PAPI.

Seeing my father-in-law shout for joy when the Sox won their first title since 1918 sealed it for me. Add another 2007 title and a ballpark that is about as good as it will ever be, and you have perfection.

Finally, both my kids are huge Sox fans. As a Papi, I know feel I need to steer them right.

So call me the Bronx Judas. I freakin love it. And by the way, Beckett pitches a two-hitter tonight.

Boston, you know I love you madly.

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