David Ortiz, American

The ghost of Charley Lau haunts the Minnesota Twins. For more than a couple of decades now, the Twins have tried to stamp out any tendency toward power hitting in their organization. Hit to the opposite field! Advance the runner! Don’t pull the ball, slap at it! Make an out on purpose! Power was once the Twins’ hallmark–Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall, Earl Battey–but it has been in short supply in the Metrodome for a long time.

One of the Twins’ most famous failures was David Ortiz. A natural slugger, the Twins wanted him to mend his ways. “They tried to make me hit like a girl!” he once said. Ortiz had only modest success as a Twin; slap hitting was never his style. In his last two years in the organization he hit 18 homers with 48 RBIs, and 20 homers with 75 RBIs.

The Red Sox unleashed Ortiz to swing away, and the rest is history. He has led them to two World Series titles, and in 2006 he clubbed 54 home runs and knocked in 137 runs. He never did learn to hit to the opposite field.

But I digress. Today Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.

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“It’s a great country. I’m proud to be here,” Ortiz said. He added that he was eager “to be part of the American family.” He held an American flag in his hand as he took the oath of citizenship. His wife, Tiffany, said it is a “huge honor” to be a citizen.

All is forgiven, David. Now if you could finally learn to shorten your swing and punch at the ball, the Twins would have a better shot against the Sox.

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