A day to build a dream on: Middleboro teen visits Fenway with Ortiz
MIDDLEBORO — Fenway Park became a field of dreams Saturday for 14-year-old Dominic Driscoll of Middleboro.
The teen lived every Red Sox fan’s fantasy as he spent Aug. 26 touring the ballpark, from behind the famous Green Monster to inside the clubhouse and the dugout, during the game against the L.A. Dodgers.
But this was no solo journey. He was accompanied by Red Sox icon “Big Papi’’ David Ortiz.
That ensured him that he would be noticed, Dominic said with a laugh.
“I felt like I was walking around with the president, ‘’ he said. “Everybody knew him.’’
Driscoll’s trip to Fenway with Ortiz was the fulfillment of a wish granted through the Make a Wish Foundation, which provides life-changing experiences for children with critical illnesses.
Dominic was born with a heart defect detected during his mother Kristen’s pregnancy.
The family feared he might not survive his birth, or live much longer. But as a baby he gripped the sides of his bassinet, an early indicator of his strength and determination.
Dominic has undergone three open-heart surgeries and works to raise awareness and funds for congenital heart disease-related causes.
That gives him a bond with Ortiz. That cause is the focus of The David Ortiz Children’s Fund.
In addition to supporting similar efforts, Dominic shares another trait with Ortiz. They both take their baseball seriously.
Dominic hopes to be the first player with congenital heart disease to be drafted by a major league team. He is one of the top amateur power-hitting and pitching prospects in the country.
He puts time and miles into that effort. He was a member of the Middleboro Little League team that made the state championship.
He also plays in the New Balance Select League, based in Harvard. His father, Bill Driscoll, makes the long drive to north central Massachusetts several times a week so Dominic can play on the league teams and work out in their facility.
He works out off the field as well, doing 100 push-ups, 100 squats, and wall planks every day. He also spends plenty of time in the batting cage that is set up in their Middleboro back yard.
All of this, he hopes, will result in a spot on the Red Sox roster someday.
Saturday’s experience provided further inspiration, he said.
Ortiz offered him tips on his batting stance, reminding him to stay balanced.
He also talked with Red Sox player Alex Verdugo, who asked him a lot of questions and was “super, super nice.’’ He also met Los Angeles Dodgers player Clayton Kershaw and Red Sox slugger Justin Turner.
“It was awesome talking to these guys,’’ he said.
Bill Driscoll was amazed at how well his son kept his composure throughout the experience. “He smiled and took the whole thing in,’’ he said. “Nothing rattles him.’’
But the day did bring a lot of excitement, Dominic said. The experience was “super great,’’ he said, and “super surreal.’’
To top it off, the Sox notched a victory over the Dodgers 8-5, the perfect ending to a winning experience.