Verrry scary things as we approached Halloween:
3. David Ortiz.
It was a dark and bone-chilling night in Boston, Massachusetts. A game of baseball was to be played -- a spine-tingly, goose-bumpy game, Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, in a park fenced in by a Green Monster -- and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals had a particularly petrifying sight to face on Halloween eve when, one by one, those wolfman-hairy Boston Red Sox came to bat:
(Screams. A thunder clap. A lightning bolt.)
Oooh, as scary as the walking dead. Up to the plate he stepped, 6 feet 4, 250 pounds, lugging a huge wooden club.
A cardinal or two on the front of a St. Louis player's shirt must have flown away in fear.
The rest of the Red Sox were eerie enough, with those demented-farmer-from-a-horror-film faces of theirs. Yet it was not the dark whiskers of David Americo Ortiz that were intimidating to anybody. It was that bat. That dangerous, deadly, pitcher's-bloodsucking bat.
Sure enough, they tried to take that bat out of Ortiz's huge hands. They walked him ... and walked him ... and walked him .... and walked him. Four times, three of them intentional, but all for naught because the Red Sox took Game 6 anyway, 6-1, to claim the World Series as their own on the green grass of home.
He came to Wednesday night's game hitting .733.
No, not .333. Not even .533, which would have been a fairly surreal bat stat. The monster masher known in New England to all as "Big Papi" already had 11 hits in 15 official times at bat in this World Series, a fiendishly good, sell-your-soul batting average of .733.
Which is kind of like playing 18 holes of golf and getting birdies on 14 or 15 of them.
Once when he DIDN'T get on base, he walloped a ball to Fenway Park's right-field wall that required a fence-banging, rib-bruising catch on the part of the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran to prevent it from being a grand slam home run.
Scary good, this guy has been.
(A banshee's cry. A creaking door.)
On the opposite wall of Boston's ancient park, the intimidatingly high left-field one nicknamed the "Green Monster," ghosts inside probably were cackling in delight whenever Ortiz lurched up to home plate. Wednesday's game needed to be won by the visitors from Missouri to stay alive. They must have felt Fenway's old walls closing in on them, like anxious villagers finding themselves trapped by Stephen King under a dome.
St. Louis came armed with a strong team and a splendid pitching staff. Yet it had to at least consider the possibility of NOT having a pitcher throw a single pitch to Big Papi.
At least not one he could hit.
Wait ... you mean walk Ortiz on purpose every time up, no matter what?
It might beat getting beat by his bat.
"I remember them doing it to Frank Howard," the former big-league outfielder Rick Reichardt said when I touched base with him before Wednesday's game.
September 2, 1970: Cleveland Indians vs. Washington Senators. The manager of the visiting team, Alvin Dark, had a dread of seeing 6-foot-7, 255-pound Frank Howard stride toward the plate. "He's the monster man in baseball," Dark once said of him. "I never saw any man feared like this."
So, he intentionally walked Howard time after time. He made pitcher Sam McDowell walk him in the first inning. (Reichardt batted next and made an out.) Walked him in the third inning, even though Howard was the first man up. (Reichardt struck out.) Walked him in the fifth, again with none on base and none out. (Reichardt singled, then Howard scored on a wild pitch.)