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For the first episode of the new Fusion television program Big Papi Needs a Job, the recently retired Boston Red Sox power hitter David Ortiz (Big Papi) visits Berklee to try his hand at percussion. In the episode, Ortiz gets lessons from percussion faculty member Eguie Castrillo and jams with students, all while reflecting on his deep connection to the music and rhythms of his home country, the Dominican Republic.

Below, a few of the students involved share their thoughts on the experience making tunes with the global legend.

Elaine Lizardo, Vocalist, Dominican Republic

“As a Dominican musician, having the opportunity to make music with Big Papi was incredible and unexpected. I would have never imagined that I would make music with the three times World Series winner. It was a reminder for me of how powerful music can be. Once we started singing ‘Compadre Pedro Juan,’ one of the most popular merengue songs in our country, he knew exactly how to play the güira without a rehearsal. Meeting him in person and learning his wonderful personality showed me that no matter how big you get, there’s always something new to learn.”

Alexis Soto, Percussionist, Venezuela

“To be honest, meeting David Ortiz was like meeting a really big admired person not just for me, but for everyone in my country. Even though he is not from Venezuela, we really like baseball in general. Without any doubt, I used to see him on TV since I was a very young child looking at Medias Rojas de Boston play against Los Yankees de Nueva York (I was a huge fan of Derek Jeter at the time). I think he is such an inspiration. Being with him and recording in his program was such a great honor and a happy image that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Laura Guzman, Vocalist, Dominican Republic

“I was very lucky to meet Big Papi—you can tell that he doesn’t take his fans for granted just because he’s a celebrity. He was so down to earth and very approachable. When he walked in the room, the environment he created was very relaxed and enjoyable, and when the cameras were off or on he was the same guy—very humble. It was a really great experience that I won’t forget.

“’Compadre Pedro Juan’ is like a hymn in the Dominican Republic and every single Dominican knows it and unifies us when we sing it and dance it together. When we sang that song for David Ortiz I felt very excited because we both come from the same place and we were representing our country by sharing our culture and singing such a meaningful song for us Dominicans.

“I also want to add that it’s just amazing how big dreams can be and how close we are to achieve them when we realize that everything you want in life is possible if you have faith, put in the effort, and be persistent. I always wanted to go to Berklee and do music and take advantage of all the resources, but I never expected to have all these great experiences that motivate me to go for more.”

Manfredi Caputo, Percussionist, Italy

“It was an amazing experience. At first, I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never done something quite like this, and I didn’t know a lot about David Ortiz (I’m Italian—we don’t have a lot of baseball around). The crew was super professional and they made us comfortable during the whole recording process. And David Ortiz, man! What an amazing human being! I’m glad that I’ve been part of this and to represent Berklee. It was a lot of fun.”

Watch Ortiz jam with Berklee students: