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Big Papi's Barber Is 'Feeling Pretty Low' In Wake Of Shooting02:26
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With the walls adorned with images of Big Papi, Gino Almonte gives a haircut to a patron at MLB Barbers on Tremont Street, where David Ortiz gets his hair cut regularly. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
With the walls adorned with images of Big Papi, Gino Almonte gives a haircut to a patron at MLB Barbers on Tremont Street, where David Ortiz gets his hair cut regularly. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Walk into MLB Barbershop on Tremont Street in Boston and you can’t avoid the presence of David Ortiz even if you try.

There's a massive cutout of Big Papi on the wall, a Papi street sign, a Papi bridge sign — and a mockup of the iconic Beatles' "Abbey Road" cover, with Papi in the place of John Lennon at the front.

"I’m worried," Gino Almonte, one of the barbers at MLB, said on Monday, after news that Ortiz was shot and wounded in his native Dominican Republic. "A guy like David — he’s someone everyone likes, he treats people well. Now everybody’s talking about what happened, watching the news, checking our phones for updates on his health."

A photo on the wall shows owner José “Bacano” De La Rosa with Ortiz in his barber chair. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A photo on the wall shows owner José “Bacano” De La Rosa with Ortiz in his barber chair. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The owner of MLB Barbershop is Jose De La Rosa, known in the community as "Bacano." He's been cutting Papi’s hair since 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

"I'm feeling pretty low," he said in Spanish. "David and I are friends, brothers. He told me he doesn't give the keys to [his] house to anyone — 'only my friends' — and he gave me the keys to his house and now I come and go as I please."

De La Rosa said he has worked as a clubhouse barber at Fenway Park for 10 years, and though Ortiz is retired and lives in Miami, De La Rosa continues to do his lineups when he’s in Boston.

With news of the shooting, he called Ortiz’s father, and was relieved to hear his friend was expected to recover.

Ortiz was shot outside a nightclub, and for De La Rosa, it's another reminder of life in his native Dominican Republic.

"The insecurity has gotten out of control," he said. "I think the lack of education is the biggest problem — and the [politicians], the people in charge, they don’t fix the problem."

De La Rosa added that for the youth, "there’s no work, no future — so they take to the streets to see if they can improve their situation."

Ortiz is expected to come to Boston to receive care, and De La Rosa says he has a message to send his friend about where he spends his time.

"I hope he gets well soon, and takes it a little bit easier," he said, adding that Ortiz shouldn't go to places like nightclubs anymore, but instead be with his family.

And De La Rosa says he plans to say that to Ortiz next time he sees him.

This segment aired on June 10, 2019.

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Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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