Manny Ramirez had one of the most dominant and entertaining careers of any player from the 1990s and 2000s.
One of the most consistent hitters in the game for two decades, Ramirez has cemented himself as one of baseball’s greatest right-handed batters of all time.
I could watch Manny Ramirez hit baseballs all day and never get bored pic.twitter.com/UfoaTgbMj1
— Baseball (@mlbelites_) July 15, 2022
Ramirez’s personality and controversies brought color and entertainment to baseball after the 1994 strike. He helped to revitalize the Cleveland Indians franchise (now known as the Guardians) and later helped bring a championship to Boston for the first time in nearly 90 years.
Despite the controversy, Ramirez’s story is important and will be remembered for generations to come.
Manuel Aristedes Ramirez was born on May 30, 1972, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to parents Aristedes and Onelcida Ramirez.
Ramirez spent the majority of his 13 years living in the Dominican Republic with an obsession with baseball.
His favorite team was the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he began telling anyone who would listen that his dream was to play professional baseball.
He played baseball with anything he could find in the Dominican Republic until the family left and moved to New York City in 1985.
Coming to America
While his parents were working in factories, Ramirez took to playing baseball at local parks.
He quickly became known as a great young player and often missed time in school in order to play as a young kid.
When he got to Washington High School, Ramirez dedicated his life to baseball, often being the first to show up and the last to leave on the diamond and in the weight room.
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) January 25, 2019
By this point, Ramirez had taken a liking to the Toronto Blue Jays over the local Mets or Yankees due to their roster having a number of native Dominicans on it.
He often attended games at Yankee Stadium when the Blue Jays came to town.
Ramirez soon became the best baseball player in the city, and in his senior year, he was named the New York City Public School Player of the Year.
He won numerous other accolades and began receiving considerable attention from scouts for his performance.
Among teams interested in the young slugger were the Cleveland Indians, who drafted Ramirez 13th overall in the 1991 amateur draft.
This news came as a surprise to his family, who had not been aware of his baseball exploits.
His sister Evelyn said:
“When we found out that Manny was drafted, we had no idea. I mean, nobody knew about it. Somebody called and told us to turn on the television, the six o’clock news. We knew he loved to play baseball, but we had no idea.”
After signing with the Indians, Ramirez reported to the team’s Burlington, North Carolina farm team.
He won the Appalachian League Player of the Year in his first professional season, earning himself a promotion to Single-A the following year.
Ramirez continued his hot streak into 1992 and 1993, showing elite batting skills and above-average power.
He was now considered one of baseball’s best overall prospects and was named the Minor League Baseball Player of the Year in 1993 when he split time between Double-A and Triple-A.
September 3, 1993: In his second MLB game Manny Ramirez gets his first major league hit, a ground rule double that he thought was a Home Run, as he proceeded to do a home run trot past second base.
Manny would go on to hit two home runs later in the game. pic.twitter.com/VCQY5aCLYd
— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) September 3, 2020
That same year, the Indians promoted him to the Major Leagues as a September call-up.
Going hitless in his first Major League game, Ramirez hit his first home run against the Yankees the following day at Yankee Stadium.
His first hit came on an automatic double that Ramirez believed had been a home run.
Trotting around the bases, he soon realized that he had only hit a double.
This would be the first of many humorous moments in Ramirez’s career which soon was dubbed “Manny being Manny.”
Ramirez’s first full season in the Majors came in 1994, a year in which he played in just 91 games due to the player’s strike that ended the season in August.
When the work stoppage came, Ramirez was having a very productive season for the Indians.
He batted .269 with a respectable on-base percentage of .357 and 17 home runs.
The Indians were in a heated race with the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals in the AL Central when play stopped, ultimately finishing one game behind Chicago with a 66-47 record.
Ramirez finally was able to play a full season in 1995, a year in which the Indians won 100 games on their way to the World Series.
Defeating the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in the AL postseason, they fell to the Atlanta Braves in six games.
Ramirez broke out, becoming one of the best young hitters in the game.
He hit 31 home runs, batted .308, and drove in 107 runs.
He was named to his first All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger Award for outfielders.
The following year was an improvement for the impressive hitter.
He hit 33 home runs and notched 112 RBI.
Another Shot at the Ring
He would go on to play well in the postseason for the Indians against Baltimore Orioles in the Division Series, but it wasn’t enough to take the Indians over the hump.
They redeemed themselves the following year, going back to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
Ramirez was a big contributor to the team’s success once again, hitting .328 with 26 home runs and an impressive .415 on-base percentage.
He hit two home runs in the series with the Indians ultimately losing in seven games in one of the most exciting World Series of all time.
Ramirez followed the 1997 campaign with the best season of his career to that point.
In 1998, Ramirez made his second All-Star team and hit 45 home runs, 19 more than he had hit in 1997.
His surge in power helped lead Cleveland back to the postseason yet again, but they fell to the Yankees in the ALCS, falling short of another World Series appearance.
In 1999, Ramirez finished with an astounding 165 RBI, the most in a single season since the 1930s.
He was almost at 100 by the time he played in his third All-Star game and second straight.
Now considered one of the American League’s premier offensive threats, he also added another 40-plus homer season with a .333 batting average and a third-place MVP finish.
Despite the outstanding regular season, Ramirez was a non-factor in the Indians’ loss to the Red Sox in the Division Series that year, getting just one hit in five games.
The 2000 season would be Ramirez’s last in a Cleveland uniform, but he went out with a bang.
He added 38 home runs and 117 RBI to his career totals to go along with an astounding .351 batting average.
By this point, Manny Ramirez was perhaps the best right-handed hitter in all of baseball.
The Indians failed to make the postseason for the first time in Ramirez’s career.
Boston Red Sox
Just a day after the Texas Rangers made Alex Rodriguez the first $20 million player, the Red Sox made Ramirez the second.
The Indians had offered Ramirez a contract for eight years, $136 million, but the Red Sox gave him $160 million over the same time frame, ensuring Ramirez would leave the team he had spent the previous eight seasons with.
Upon signing Ramirez, Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette said:
“It was important for us to get a player like that, and for us to have really good, identifiable players from a competitive basis. We thought that Manny would be a long-time fixture and fit in with the tradition of great Red Sox sluggers in left field.”
Ramirez, never the best defensive outfielder while in Cleveland, began the season as the Red Sox designated hitter.
He was moved to left field halfway through the 2001 season, but his lackluster defense persuaded the team to move him back to DH.
The change of position didn’t seem to faze Ramirez, as he was named to yet another All-Star team and hit 41 home runs, batted .306, and drove in more than 100 runs for his new team.
The Red Sox failed to make the postseason, but their big signing seemed promising.
In 2002, Ramirez won the American League Batting Title with a .349 average despite missing over a month of the season due to injury.
The Red Sox finished with 93 wins, good for second place in the AL East but not good enough for a playoff spot in a tough field that year.
Helping the Bo-Sox Break “The Curse”
The Red Sox finally made the postseason in 2003 on the back of Ramirez’s consistency with the bat.
He had another spectacular year, leading the American League in on-base percentage and almost winning another batting title.
In that year’s AL Championship Series against the rival Yankees, Ramirez hit two home runs, but it would be moot as the Yankees won a thrilling seven-game series on their way to another World Series appearance.
Apparently not happy in Boston, Ramirez had expressed interest in being traded or cut from the team for a chance to try somewhere else.
One trade, in particular, was declined by the MLB Player’s Association—a trade that would have involved Ramirez being traded to the Rangers along with then-prospect Jon Lester for Alex Rodriguez.
The deal was agreed upon but fell through due to Rodriguez’s unwillingness to take an exorbitant pay cut to play in Boston.
Ramirez stayed in Boston and Rodriguez would go on to sign with the Yankees before the 2004 season.
In 2004, Ramirez would finally win a World Series championship as part of a historic Red Sox team that hadn’t won since the 1918 season.
Desperately wanting to overcome the so-called “Curse of the Bambino,” Ramirez and the Red Sox found themselves down three games to none in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
Feeling the season slip away, the Red Sox made a remarkable comeback in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 4. They went on to win that and the next three games, becoming the first team in baseball history to overcome a three-game deficit in a seven-game series.
The Red Sox overtook the team that had defeated them in seven games the year before and would go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Ramirez won World Series MVP, recording seven hits and a home run.
Manny Being Manny
In the regular season, the 32-year-old Ramirez made his seventh consecutive All-Star game to go along with 43 home runs and 130 RBI.
Ramirez made another All-Star team in 2005, continuing his offensive dominance in the American League.
He hit 45 more home runs and added 144 RBI to his career totals.
The Red Sox would make the postseason as a Wildcard team, losing in the Division Series to the White Sox.
The strife between the Red and Ramirez did not let up despite the World Series win.
Many were beginning to tire of Ramirez’s antics, one instance coming during a mound visit in which Ramirez went inside of Boston’s Green Monster and didn’t return to the field until the first pitch had been thrown.
He began to miss time due to injuries, and on one occasion, refused to play on a scheduled off day even though the team needed him in the outfield due to an injury.
He continued to request a trade and threatened to not show up to Spring Training in 2006.
The Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2006, but Ramirez had another great year, hitting 35 home runs with 102 RBI.
Manny’s stats dipped a bit in 2007.
October 5, 2007
Manny Ramirez absolutely bludgeons a 2-out, 3 run, walk-off HR off the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the 9th to give the Red Sox a (6-3) win
“Almost 1:00am and nobody has left”
hmmm- I guess baseball hadn’t died yet pic.twitter.com/lUXEC9yXk8
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) October 5, 2020
His streak of 30 home runs and 100 RBI came to an end and he missed games due to injury, but the team won their second World Series of his tenure with another sweep over the Colorado Rockies.
The tension escalated to a boiling point in 2008.
Going to California
After an altercation with first baseman Kevin Youkilis, lack of effort, and refusing to play, Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, beginning the “Mannywood” saga in Los Angeles.
Ramirez was incredible for the Dodgers and batted over .400 his first month with the team.
He finished fourth in MVP voting and helped the Dodgers make the postseason in a competitive NL West.
Ramirez performed well in the postseason as the Dodgers overtook the Chicago Cubs in the Division Series, but would lose to the eventual World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Ramirez began his first full season in Los Angeles in 2009, a year in which he would only play in 104 games.
That May, Ramirez was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and it was also revealed he had tested positive in 2003 as well.
The 2010 and 2011 seasons would be Manny Ramirez’s last in the Major Leagues.
The White Sox claimed Ramirez off waivers from the Dodgers late in the season hoping to improve their offense in a playoff push, but Manny didn’t perform well and the White Sox missed the playoffs.
He signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for 2011 and was one of the best performers during spring training, but he retired in early April after being told he had tested positive for PEDs for the third time in his career.
The Oakland Athletics signed Ramirez before the 2012 season, but they released him before he could make it to the big leagues.
At the time of his release from the Athletics, Ramirez had totaled 69 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), over 2,500 hits, 555 home runs, and a career batting average of .312.
He had been named to 12 All-Star teams and won two World Series, both with the Red Sox.
Life After Baseball
After leaving Major League Baseball, Ramirez went on to play in Taiwan for the EDA Rhinos.
He left halfway through the season, hoping to sign with another big league team.
He had another brief stint with the Texas Rangers in the minor leagues before they released him.
In 2014, the Cubs signed Ramirez as a player/coach in hopes he could mentor young prospects in the farm system.
Currently, Ramirez still maintains an interest in playing and has bounced around in various leagues all over the world.
While Ramirez has certainly had a Hall of Fame caliber career with Hall of Fame numbers, his chances of being elected are incredibly slim.
In 2022, he received just 29% of the vote.
Like many others who have tested positive for PEDs or have been connected with them, Ramirez is unlikely to be able to convince enough voters that he deserves a spot in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
If players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, both of whom are considered to be better players than Ramirez, fell off the ballot without being elected, it is incredibly unlikely that Ramirez will ever be elected.
The voters have routinely punished PED users and seem likely to continue to do so for years moving forward.
There is no doubt that Manny Ramirez is one of the greatest right-handed hitters the game of baseball has ever seen.
His combination of power and outright hitting ability was matched by very few over the course of his 19-year career in the Major Leagues.
He was one of the most exciting players of the 1990s and 2000s. He helped to lead his teams to four World Series appearances and two World Series championships to go along with his eccentric personality and tense relationships with the Red Sox and the league.
Despite the controversy that has surrounded Ramirez and his career over the past two decades, it is important not to overlook how dominant and consistent of a hitter he was over the course of his career, PEDs or not.
Fans will always remember Manny Ramirez as one of baseball’s great hitters and personalities.