You could call it a friendship sewn out of fabric.
“One day, I decided to take some measurements and make him a suit and he called me from the DR from Santo Domingo and he says, 'let me tell you something, this is the best fitting suit I've ever had in my life' and that's how it started,” Salvatore Paterno said.
Paterno, New Britain native and owner of Milano Fine Men’s Fashion in Long Island, has been designing custom suits for David Ortiz for the past five years and this weekend, Paterno will hand deliver a bespoke suit to Big Papi for his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I try to incorporate the blue, the red, and then he's going to wear a white shirt with the red tie to represent his Dominican flag and the American flag, and plus the stitching on the inside and the outside is red. It's just like the stitching on the baseball,” Paterno said.
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It’s a partnership that’s suited the all-star in some of his biggest moments in the spotlight.
“I try to guide him to tell him what looks good on him and the silhouettes and certain things that elongate his body and make him look thinner so as he listens to me, you know, we try to pick colors together,” Paterno said.
Suiting up Ortiz for the induction is a long way from Paterno’s humble beginnings.
“In Connecticut, I used to remember making $33.33 on my check a week and I would go to Hartford and buy a $100 pair of pants in ’75...And I said to myself, I better get into this business, it's going to cost me a lot of money,” Paterno said.
Paterno and his whole family will be in company of baseball royalty like Pedro, Manny and Jeter but he says the real honor would be if Ortiz’s suit never left the building.
“I'm hoping that they'll keep it in the Hall of Fame. I've got to tell him tonight, you know, 'let them keep it and I’ll make you another one for nothing.' If I could have my suit in the Hall of Fame, that would be the ultimate, plus I'm a big fanatic, the Red Sox fan,” Paterno said.