I know that things have been tough lately, but I wanted to offer up some feelings on the great career you had regardless of some of the negative events that took place. I wanted to say thanks for making us laugh and I wanted to say thanks for all the great moments you provided on and off the field. Hear me out, Manny.
First and foremost, I remember the first time I saw you play. It was a hot and humid 2001 summer night and my family drove down to Boston for a weekend. It was the first time I had ever been to Bean Town. All I had known about Boston prior to arriving were just a few things.
I understood that it was such a historical city. Having learned in school about some of our greatest American hereos such as Paul Revere it was obvious that Boston wasn't boring to say the least. I was also aware of some of the picturesque sights and landscaping of parts of the outer Boston area, and of course the inner. Last but not least, I knew about the Red Sox and I knew about you. Being an eight year old at the time, I only knew about the more popular players on the Sox such as Nomar Garciaparra, your old buddy. Of course, I knew about the great Pedro Martinez and his current triumphant pitching run. And as I said before, I knew about you.
Getting those tickets to that night game in the middle of July I could not be more excited to see Fenway Park especially since I had only known a bit about it from playing Sammy Sosa's High Heat Baseball (for PC). But I knew enough to be excited to spend a night with my dad watching a Red Sox vs. Expos game and not only enjoy it but learn as much about the great game of baseball as I possibly could.
Less than 10 years later it's always nice to think back on that day. The few things I remember about that vacation itself are highlighted by my trip to Fenway. I remember the peanuts. I remember the Green Monster. I remember the Upper Deck. I remember Pedro Martinez taking the hill for your Sox. It was my first baseball game and I remember it like it was yesterday.
But there was something I can't seem to remember. Something I keep trying to picture in my head whether it be closing my eyes and trying to think back or simply thinking long and hard until I could possibly remember. Every time I talk to my dad about that game he always brings this up yet I still can't see it -- It was a home run you hit on that night. Even though I don't remember it I remember that night being the first time I saw you play. It was the first time I had proof that you weren't some machine made out of metal that stood 10 feet tall with bulging metal claws and spikes coming out all different parts of your body. You would eventually go deep over 500 times throughout your career and it never got old.
2008 was the first year I really started focusing on baseball. The first game I saw that year and the earliest game I remember watching from 2008 was a Red Sox vs. Twins game at the Metrodome. I knew absolutey nothing at the time about any of the players on the field except for you and Big Papi. But I was quick to learn about the Red Sox and Twins players. I was quick to learn about every player in baseball for that matter. Having seen that night players such as Coco Crisp, Julio Lugo, Joe Nathan, and whoever -- I had found what I loved (baseball) and I saw one of the biggest hearts of the game. It was you.
Over the next couple of years I couldn't get enough MLB Network highlight shows where they would display some of your finest and funniest moments in, out, and over the Green Monster. Whether it be the time you rolled over the ball in Anaheim or the time you gave the fan in Baltimore a high five. It didn't matter if it was the time you cut off Johnny Damon's throw or of course your moment inside the Green Monster -- They all had one thing in common -- The great fun you had playing the game you loved.
No doubt about it you gave the game you loved (and still love) everything you had to give. Sure, there were times were you might have been a bit lazy. We can assume there were a couple of times where you might not have acted like a man or a role model that you should have been. But Manny, you added the "having fun" aspect to a game that needed it and darn needed it at the time you were quick to provide it. You made it clear that baseball is just a game and that everyone oughta have fun playing it. Forget about the two times in the past three years that you were caught using PED's -- You were Manny and you added an uncountable number of memories to a game that wouldn't be the same without. It was clear why the everyone used the phrase "Manny Being Manny."
Just a few more things before I close this up and send it out. I told you my story about my trip to Fenway and I don't want to bore you with my silly old stories. But I have to tell you another story if you'll indulge me. Something I love to watch is the Little League World Series. I remember watching teams such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and other teams competing intensively. Those kids sure know how to play, Manny. But there was something I noticed.
As each player on every team walked up towards the plate there was a box on the screen that displayed the players statistics. Under that was the players name and below that was the age and where that kid lived. Below that was something I found fascinating. It featured two names -- The first and last name of that little leaguer's favorite player. Their idol. Their inspiration. Many of those boxes read "Manny Ramirez." Manny, are you aware of the number of lives and careers you touched and inspired throughout your time in the Majors? Don't even get me started with "Mannywood." It almost seems like every baseball player has an ounce at the very least of Manny Ramirez in them.
But why am I boring you with all of these stories. You're really busy right now, I assume. Spending time with family is something that you haven't been able to do in the month of April since...Your High School days in New York as you were working towards fulfilling your goal of someday being as good of a player as those who you idolized on TV such as Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken Jr most likely. Damn...Both of those two added a ton to the game of baseball. They added integrity, class, etc... Similar to the many things you added during your career.
It all matters, Manny. Sure, your career ended on a negative note. Yeah, It might affect your Hall of Fame chances. It might subtract a few fans off of the "Manny Fanclub List" if there is such thing. But none of that takes away from the career you had and the many lives you touched over the past twenty years.
Thanks Manny for being Manny. Thanks for everything.
Sincerely, Dave Gershman