Posted on 13 September 2010 by Wanna Be Sports Guy
You won’t find the name “Roberto Ortiz” in too many of baseball’s voluminous histories. A light-hitting prospect in the 1941 Washington Senator’s system, the Cuban native batted right handed and was largely relegated to backup duty in the outfield. For much of his career, in fact, he wasn’t even in the majors. Rather, Ortiz spent much of his time with the Charlotte Hornets, one of the Senators’ minor league outfits.
Though not possessing much of a command of the English language, Ortiz did manage to make one loyal friend during his time with the Hornets. A small stray remembered to have had fur “the color of cooked squash”, this creature would prance around the young outfielder during warmups, and wait for him outside of the clubhouse door after games. He was a good dog, remaining off the field during games, and causing no trouble with the rest of the players.
There was one time, however, when the excitement proved to be too much for the friendly pooch. During a particularly tense game, Ortiz socked a pitch out over the opposing center fielder’s head in the bottom of the ninth with a man on base. The tying run came home as Ortiz, blessed with stupendous speed, lit out across the infield.
The dog awoke, startled from his nap by the sounds of the screaming and stomping feet. His eyes opened to see his pal Ortiz, blazing out of the batter’s box and toward first base. Caught up in the excitement of the moment, his canine enthusiasm overcame whatever reluctant instincts he may have possessed. Leaping to his paws, the dog hit the dusty base paths at a dead run.
The little dog caught up with Ortiz just as he rounded first. The player looked down, startled, but continued his course toward second. The rounded second together, the dog nearly colliding with the astonished second baseman.
By now, the outfielders had recovered the ball, hurling it on a line back toward third base. The base coach gave the slide sign as Ortiz neared the critical point, and the runner immediately went down into the dirt. The dog, too involved to turn back, made a slide of his own. A bang-bang play, but when the dust settled, both Ortiz and his canine pal were signaled safe.
The next day, the box score in the Charolette News told the story. Beneath Ortiz’s name, they added “y – Yellow Dog.” At the foot of the score, in the place occupied by pinch runners, they added this note: “y – Yellow Dog ran with Ortiz in the 9th.”
- Taylor Maxwell
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