David Ortiz Brings Big Bat and Big Heart

David Ortiz Brings Big Bat and Big Heart Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is known for his big swing, his clutch hits and his big smile. But he's also been recognized for his big heart.

The Red Sox founded the Lindos Suenos program ("Beautiful Dreams" in Spanish) in 2004, and in 2007, Ortiz, a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship and community involvement, chose the program to receive a donation from Major League Baseball in his name. The program aims to connect people of different backgrounds through the twin goals of community service and baseball. During two weeks each summer, 24 participants of varying socioeconomic backgrounds — half from the United States and half from the Dominican Republic — work together on a community service project in the Dominican Republic. Then, they play baseball together every afternoon.

In past years, participants have built baseball fields, a daycare center and made improvements to an orphanage. Using Ortiz's name and popularity, the 2007 participants traveled to Haina, Ortiz's hometown, and revamped an existing baseball field. Though participants often don't speak the same language, they soon find themselves communicating through the language of baseball and friendship. The teenagers are proud to build something with their hands that will bring happiness to Dominican children who do not grow up with the same advantages as their American counterparts.

Working with the Red Sox and in close proximity to the Red Sox Dominican Academy, participants gain a better understanding of the background of some of MLB’s most popular players. Ortiz is just one of many Dominican players in the majors. As that number grows, programs like Lindos Suenos – now in its fifth year — foster teamwork and compassion and serve as a unifier of people of all backgrounds and cultures. It is another way the Red Sox and other teams can give back and make a difference off the field.

TMZ logo

© 2018 NESN

Partner of USATODAY Sports Digital Properties