Say what you will about Manny Ramirez—the guy loves baseball. After his abrupt retirement from the MLB, the once-great slugger bopped around minor league clubs and played ball in the Dominican Republic and Taiwan. Now his career enters its next (and final?) chapter thanks to a new gig playing for Japan’s independent Kochi Island Fighting Dogs.
But true to form, Manny didn’t just sign a contract. He Mannified it. Witness the absurd perks of his current deal, as reported by The Boston Globe: full use of a Mercedes and driver, hotel suites for all away games, optional practices, and unlimited sushi. (He has also insisted—successfully—on his jersey saying “Manny” instead of “Ramirez.”)
Unlimited sushi? Really? Well, yeah. That’s just Manny being Manny. And despite our sour grapes with the dude, there was a time when Boston called that dreadlocked goofball our own. Think back to when we still loved Number 24 and you’ll find some other Manny-being-Manny moments worth remembering.
The fact that new Manny antics are still being unearthed makes you wonder just how much behind-the-scenes mischief we missed while he was active. When Pedro Martinez released his book Pedro in May 2015, it came with the revelation that Manny once spiked a pregame cocktail of gin, honey, and wine with 300 mg of Viagra. He and Pedro gave it to teammate Ellis Burks. Results inconclusive.
The Bathroom Break
There are several Manny Moments that’ll live on in baseball lore as surely as Yogi Berra’s aphorisms or Wade Boggs’s drinking. Chief among them is the time Manny had to tinkle. During a July 2005 game, pitching coach Dave Wallace visited the mound to speak with starter Wade Miller. Manny took this opportunity to disappear inside the Green Monster for a while, reappearing just as play resumed. Accounts differ about what went on inside—some say it was a coffee break, some say he was peeing. Either way, it was classic Manny.
In 2007, Manny Ramirez was making $20 million a year playing left field for the Boston Red Sox. Puzzling, then, when the millionaire decided to recoup some minor home appliance costs by posting his grill on eBay. On March 20, he wrote, “Hi, I’m Manny Ramirez. I bought this AMAZING grill for about $4,000 and I used it once…But I never have the time to use it because I am always on the road. I would love to sell it and you will get an autographed ball signed by me :-]” When ESPN aired the news, the Red Sox clubhouse erupted in laughter. Manny’s retort? “I’m a businessman, I’ve got to make a little money.”
The High Five
Never underestimate showmanship. Manny certainly made a case for functional flair in 2008 with an impressive over the shoulder catch of a sinking line drive at Camden Yards. His momentum carried him onto the warning track, where he ran up the wall, high-fived a fan, and promptly turned around to double up the runner on first. Very nice, high five.
No Manny-being-Manny list would be complete without his inexplicable—and wholly unnecessary—cutoff of Johnny Damon’s throw in a 2004 game against the Orioles. Baltimore’s David Newhan hit a ball over Damon’s head in center field that caromed off the wall and skittered out into the grass. By the time Damon got to it, Manny was poised to disobey all cutoff decorum by diving between the center fielder and his intended cutoff man to intercept the throw. This misstep extended the relay from three men to four, giving Newhan enough time to round the bases for an unheard-of inside the park home run.
By the time he left Boston in 2008, Manny Ramirez was a petulant sourpuss who had turned Red Sox nation (and most of his teammates) against him. Now, nearly a decade after his departure, it’s a little easier to look back on his time as a Sox player with fondness. After all, it was just Manny being Manny.
Boston wishes you well, Manny Ramirez. Enjoy that sushi.