Manny Ramirez was one of the most recognizable figures in Major League Baseball for almost a decade. He was feared by pitchers around the league for his production in the batter’s box, especially in clutch moments. Ramirez made it to 12 All-Star Games and won nine Silver Slugger Awards during his 19-year career.
He even helped break the Boston Red Sox’s 86-year streak without a World Series victory, known as the “Curse of the Bambino,” with a title in 2004 in which he was the World Series MVP. Ramirez and fellow star slugger David Ortiz remained together in Boston after their first title and eventually delivered a second World Series win in 2007.
But despite all of his accomplishments, Ramirez has not been universally adored among Red Sox fans like Ortiz. Ramirez was perhaps just as well known for his accomplishments as for his on-and-off-field antics. “Manny being Manny” was harmless and lighthearted at first, but eventually soured many fans, teammates and media members as it became increasingly divisive. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2008 season. By the end of the 2011 campaign, Ramirez’s MLB career was over.
Now, Ramirez finds himself back in the Boston headlines — he was honored last week by The Sports Museum in Boston during The Tradition event with other Boston sports legends.
Ramirez’s disposition upon his return to the Boston sports scene is much different than it was when his misbehavior forced the Red Sox to trade him to the Dodgers. He says he has apologized to people he ostracized on his way out.
“To be honest, I was not in a good place at that time,” Ramirez said last week in a Boston Globe article. “I wanted a change. I thought going someplace else was going to make a difference. But now, man, I know it wasn’t the place. It was me. It was my mind. It was my heart. I wasn’t thinking right.”
Ramirez, now 47, credits much of his change in attitude to his growing faith. He said he has been in seminary for five years now, simply to learn more about God.
“I’m growing. It takes time,” Ramirez said in the article. “It’s like playing baseball. If you want to be the best, you got to hit it every day. If you want to get to know God, you have to have a relationship with Him.”
He describes himself as a reformed Baptist, and he has developed an itch to preach God’s Word.
“What I’m doing now, I preach,” Ramirez said. “That’s what I do. Go into hospitals just to preach and teach people the Bible.”
Ramirez was a lifetime .312 hitter with 555 career home runs and an MLB-record 29 postseason homers. His stats may be worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, but he hasn’t received much attention from Hall of Fame voters due to a series of failed drug tests. Ramirez says he is praying for it to be God’s will that he get into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Yet even if he never does, he is secure in the knowledge of what truly lasts.
“I’m going into another Hall of Fame,” Ramirez said. “If you read the Bible, the Bible says that your name is going to be written in the Book of Life. So it’s going to be more impressive than this. Remember, when you die, you can’t take this with you.”
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