Sox Fans Disappointed, Hardly Surprised, By Doping Allegations

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Sad. Ashamed. Disappointed.

Those are the words Red Sox fans kept using in reaction to a report that beloved Boston slugger David Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

But very few of the people outside Fenway Park during Thursday’s Red Sox game against the Oakland A’s were surprised.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if anybody used steroids at this point," said Sox fan Will Hayes.

"No surprise," said Anna Griswold. "They’ve all done it. And they’ve all denied it."

Many fans say drug use by Ortiz and then-teammate Manny Ramirez also taints the Red Sox’ two most recent World Series victories.

A Red Sox fan in Kenmore Square on Thursday. (Emma MacDonald/WBUR Intern)
A Red Sox fan in Kenmore Square on Thursday. (Emma MacDonald/WBUR Intern)

"It’s a hard thing to think about the magic that the 2004 and 2007 team had -- what it meant to everyone in my family, and generations of Red Sox fans," said Tyler, of Medfield, who declined to give his last name.

The list of players was supposed to have been destroyed, but many names have leaked out in the six years since the testing.

"The sad thing is it doesn't come as a surprise," said Glenn Stout, a baseball writer and analyst. "The number of players who have been implicated over time makes it clear it was pervasive — and long-term."

Ortiz released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he was "blindsided" by the revelation he appeared on a list of players who had doped. He promised to "get to the bottom of this."

"I want to thank my family, the Red Sox, my teammates, and the fans for their patience and support," Ortiz said in the statement.

He seems to have it. Steve Vitale, of Norwood, says the allegations of doping don't change his respect for Ortiz, known affectionately as Big Papi. "I'm not buying anything the papers say. I love the Big Man. He came here, he won us two championships," Vitale said. "I don't care what he's on."

"I think a lot of Red Sox fans will say it was a wash," said Stout, the baseball analyst. "Our championship is as legitimate as any other. My point of view is it is as illegitimate as any other."

For some fans, the disappointment is not in Ortiz, but in the opportunity for payback from fans of Boston's biggest rivals.

"I don't really mind it, but it's the first time to deal with all those Yankees fans because we bashed on A-Rod," said Max Gutmans, who got the news in a text message at a T stop. "It's going to be a pain. Thank God we're not playing the Yankees today, because we'd hear it a lot from all the players."

WBUR's Doug Tribou and Dave Shaw contributed to this report. WBUR intern Emma MacDonald conducted the video interviews.

Andrew Phelps Reporter
Andrew Phelps was formerly a producer and reporter for WBUR.