I’m not sure where the helmet came from, but there it was sitting on my desk. Its trademark Boston “B” looked hand-painted and shone in the harsh dormitory light. It looked like the kind of thing you’d get ice cream in at a ballpark, so I decided to keep it. I was using it as a cup to hold the strawberries that I had with dinner when a tiny David Ortiz waltzed into the room with all of the swagger you’d expect out of a 1 foot 8 inch man of his prestige. He asked what I was doing with his helmet and I apologized, saying that I had no idea it was his. I finished the strawberries, rinsed the helmet out, and handed it to him. He donned it, along with a pair of tiny sunglasses, and asked if I’d help him with batting practice. I tried to explain that I hadn’t played baseball in many years but he insisted. His tiny sunglasses were round and odd for a ballplayer, but they hid fierce eyes that meant business, so I agreed.
I handed him an unsharpened pencil to use as a bat, and began lobbing skittles to him as he swatted them across the room. We used erasers for the bases, and I built him a tiny Green Monster out of the cultures class textbooks that I never used. One skittle he hit so high that it bounced off the ceiling tile and he asked me if that would count as a homerun like it did if a ball hit the catwalk in Tropicana Field. I shrugged and said sure, I guess so. At one point, the pencil he was using snapped in half and he asked me what was inside. The last thing he needed was a suspension for using a corked bat, he told me. I explained that it wasn’t cork but graphite, and he had no need to fear. I handed him a pen, a dual sided one that felt heavy and right in his hands. I threw him a skittle, high and outside, and he cranked it all the way across the room, over the couches and the table, into the bathroom where it skittered to a halt. He flipped the pen and trotted around the bases, signed the helmet when he got back, and handed it to me. “Big Papi,” the signature read, and I chuckled.