The Be-Dazzler Visits Inwood

David Ortiz (Big Papi) was in my neighborhood on Friday evening. I don't have pictures as I didn't have my camera with me, but here is the story.

My girl and I finished work late on Friday. Instead of meeting downtown for dinner as originally planned, we decided to meet at home and then head out to dinner in our own neighborhood. We decided to go to Mamajuana Cafe, which is a Spanish/Dominican restaurant specializing in mojitos, sangria, tapas, paella, and some Caribbean home cooking. A really nice mix. We never quite figured out the old world decor of stone floors, large wooden doors and spanish bar stools, but it is a nice place. There is always a wait to get in there.

We were seated in about 15 minutes, and got stools at the end of a big, high banquet table near the entrance. As we finished our 4-course tapas dinner, four big guys walked-in, bypassed the line, and stood at the hostess' podium, next to us.

My girl looked at me and exclaimed, "Baby! We know who this is!"

Just as she said it, I knew we had ourselves a celebrity sighting. I quickly knew it was a sports star, and not a musician. At first I thought it might be a basketball player, but these guys were too beefy. Then I turned my head to the right and looked up. I saw the close-cut, angular beard of David Ortiz, just a couple of feet away. The recognition was instant.

I looked back at my girl, giddy with excitement. "Oh! My! God!"

Ortiz was wearing dark jeans, a brown suede jacket, diamond stud (rock) earrings, and a tight royal blue long-sleeve t-shirt with sparkly plastic jems and sequins on the front and back. The front had a skull and crossbones design, with a Mexican headpiece (Aztec, probably) on the skull. Papi has a great smile, and he took his time to sign autographs and have his picture taken with the kids on our side of the restaurant. The people at the bar didn't seem to notice he was there.

Since I didn't have a camera, and I didn't want to bother the guy, I resorted to the option I thought was best. I started a little round of applause. My girl and I clapped, and then the Dominican girls at our table started clapping, and then others joined in. That was cool. It earned us a smile and a wink from the big man.

He had evidently come from uptown where he taped the Regis show and the Conan O'Brien show. I knew that Manny Ramirez would be visiting Washington Heights during the offseason to see friends and cousins. But to see Big Papi on 200th Street, in my zip code, was simply amazing. A great way to end a busy week, which started with the Sox winning the championship, of course.