Ortiz said he doesn’t speak about politics often because it’s not his field of expertise. But Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as his comments calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals drove the baseball player, nicknamed “Big Papi,” to speak out.
“When you speak like that about us, it’s a slap in the face,” said Ortiz, who plans to retire at the end of this season. “I walk around sometimes, and I see Mexican people trying to earn a living in an honest way. And to hear somebody make those kinds of comments, it hits you. I think as Latin people we deserve better. Things have gotten much better in that regard. … As Latin people we deserve respect, no matter where you’re from. And especially our Mexican brothers, who come here willing to do all the dirty work.”
Ortiz, who was born in the Dominican Republic, debuted in the major leagues in 1997 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
The baseball icon predicted to USA Today that candidates who are anti-immigrant would lose.
“Latin people here in the United States are the spark plug of the country’s economy. Whoever opposes that is going to lose. And not just Latin people, but immigrants,” Ortiz said. “I’m talking about people who come from Africa, from Asia, other places. All those people come here with one goal, to realize the American dream, and you have to include them in our group.”
Trump has frequently tried to use sports figures to boost his candidacy. He boasted about his friendship with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (though Brady has stopped short of a full-throated endorsement) and touted support from former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and former Yankees player Paul O’Neill, among others.