04/08/11 8:00 PM ET
Manny being Manny through the years
By Ian Browne, Doug Miller and Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
June 1994: The O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase in Los Angeles was being broadcast on a television in the Indians clubhouse, and Ramirez saw his teammates huddled around the TV. He asked what was going on, and they said, "The cops are chasing O.J." To which Manny responded, "What did Chad do?" He was referring to teammate Chad Ogea.
1997: According to Akron Beacon Journal reporter Sheldon Ocker, Ramirez was pulled over for driving with illegally tinted windows. "The cop knew who he was," Ocker told The New Yorker magazine. "He said, 'Manny, I'm going to give you a ticket.' Manny says, 'I don't need any tickets, I can give you tickets,' and reaches for the glove compartment. Then he leaves the scene by making an illegal U-turn and he gets another ticket."
Dec. 15, 2000: The Red Sox break the bank and sign free-agent Ramirez to an eight-year, $160 million contract -- the largest contract in club history. Largely silent during his time in Cleveland, Ramirez shows his personality at the press conference unveiling at Fenway, giving a memorable smile and two thumbs up to the cameras.
April 6, 2001: In Ramirez's home opener with the Red Sox, he unloads for a three-run homer on the first pitch he sees against Tampa Bay, thrilling the Fenway faithful.
April 13, 2001: Ramirez enters the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in dramatic fashion, belting a walk-off single against the great Mariano Rivera to give the Red Sox a 3-2 win in 10 innings.
May 11, 2002: Ramirez fractures his left index finger sliding head-first into home at Safeco Field in Seattle. He doesn't play again for the Red Sox until June 25. During his Minor League rehab, Ramirez memorably loses an expensive diamond-encrusted earring during another head-first dive.
Sept. 9, 2002: In a 6-3 win at Tampa Bay, Ramirez hits a dribbler to the mound and doesn't bother to run to first base. Media and fans both express surprise that manager Grady Little didn't bench Ramirez for his lack of hustle. Little admits that he stayed up all night thinking about it and regrets not taking Ramirez out of the game. The slugger gets fined an undisclosed amount of money.
Sept. 29, 2002: With the Red Sox out of the pennant race, Ramirez goes 0-for-1 in the season finale against Tampa Bay, but clinches his first career batting title, finishing the season at .349. Still hurt by the media coverage of his failure to run out the tapper back to the mound earlier in the month, he isn't quoted by any outlet about winning the batting title.
July 12, 2003: Ramirez gives up his spot on the All-Star team because of left hamstring soreness -- an injury that wasn't preventing him from playing for the Red Sox. The next day, he is granted permission by Little to fly home to Miami instead of going to the Red Sox-Tigers game -- the last game before the All-Star break -- because his mother is ill. Ramirez later says that his mother fainted while doing some gardening out in the heat.
Aug. 13, 2003: With the Red Sox in danger of losing three out of four in a key Wild Card showdown at Oakland, Ramirez belts a game-tying solo shot in the top of the ninth against future teammate Keith Foulke, leading his team to a victory that gives Boston a one-game lead in the standings.
Aug. 29-31, 2003: A couple of weeks after Pedro Martinez misses a start with a throat illness called pharyngitis, Ramirez claims to have the exact same condition and misses a critical three-game series against the Yankees. However, the next day, despite being too ill to go to the ballpark, Ramirez is spotted socializing with Yankees utilityman Enrique Wilson at the restaurant of the Ritz Hotel. Ramirez then blows off a scheduled doctor's appointment at Fenway Park, which had been scheduled the day of the Sunday afternoon finale against New York. The Red Sox lose two out of three without Ramirez's big bat.
Sept. 1, 2003: Ramirez returns to work for a Labor Day make-up game in Philadelphia. However, with the game on the line, Ramirez tells Little he is too weak to pinch-hit. Without Ramirez, the Red Sox pull off perhaps their most memorable comeback victory of the season, fueled by a grand slam by Trot Nixon in the top of the ninth.
Sept. 2, 2003: With the blessing of the front office and ownership, Little announces that he is benching Ramirez for the opener of a two-game series at Chicago against the White Sox. "I'm putting the team out there that I think gives us the best chance to win tonight," said Little. The Red Sox get just two hits in the game -- both homers -- and one of them by Ramirez's replacement, Gabe Kapler. They win the game, 2-1. Ramirez returns to the lineup the next night and stays there without incident the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Red Sox start to catch fire as a team and go on to clinch their first postseason berth in four years.
Oct. 6, 2003: In a winner-take-all Game 5 of the Division Series at Oakland, Ramirez unloads for a tiebreaking three-run homer to left against Barry Zito, who had been brilliant up to that point. As Ramirez starts his home run trot, he points with glee to his teammates in the Boston dugout. The Red Sox hang on for dear life in the late innings and advance to the American League Championship Series, completing their comeback from an 0-2 deficit in the series. Ramirez's hit proves to be the difference in the game.
Oct. 8, 2003: Ramirez continues to make his late-season mishaps a distant memory, playing a starring role (four hits, including a homer) in Boston's 5-2 win at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the ALCS. He hit .310 with two homers and four RBIs in the seven-game epic, but the Red Sox lose the series in heartbreaking fashion.
Oct. 30, 2003: In a stunning turn of events, word leaks out that the Red Sox place Ramirez on irrevocable waivers, meaning any team in the Majors can pick him up if it is willing to pay the balance of his contract, which, at the time, is five years and $104 million. There are no takers, and Ramirez remains with the Red Sox.
Dec. 17, 2003: The Red Sox nearly trade Ramirez to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez in what would have been one of the most star-studded blockbuster trades of all-time. However, the deal falls through when the Players Association rejects the proposed restructuring of A-Rod's contract. While Rodriguez is traded to the Yankees a couple of months later, Ramirez stays with the team that tried to trade him. Ramirez says he felt like he had "nine toes in Texas."
Feb. 25, 2004: Ramirez reports to camp, but doesn't seem thrilled to still be with the Red Sox. With new manager Terry Francona set to address his team as a unit for the first time, Ramirez initially threatens to blow off the meeting. Francona talks him into attending, and things smooth over for a bit.
March 7, 2004: With a circus-like atmosphere for Boston's home Spring Training game against the Yankees -- it is the first time A-Rod has seen the Red Sox since he was nearly traded to Boston in December -- Ramirez surprisingly talks to the media for the first time in months. Remarkably relaxed with teammate Kevin Millar serving as a mock moderator, Ramirez induces laughter from teammates and media members. He stays in a happy place for much of the 2004 season, doing more interviews that year than in his first three years in Boston combined.
May 11, 2004: Again showing a more outgoing personality, Ramirez returns to Fenway for the first time after becoming a United States citizen. He takes the field against the Indians waving a small American flag. The Fenway Park crowd applauds wildly. As for passing the test to become an American citizen? The test "wasn't that hard," Ramirez said. "You just have to go and study the questions."
July 12-17, 2004: More All-Star controversy for Ramirez, who claims on the Sunday before the break that he has soreness in both hamstrings and can't play. Red Sox ace Curt Schilling is caught on camera during batting practice airing out Ramirez. The left fielder is healthy enough to start the All-Star Game and hits a home run against Roger Clemens to help lead the American League to victory. But in the first game after the break, Ramirez switches from left field to DH at the last minute. The next night, he is again too sore to play, but does manage a pinch-hit single. He sits out the next two games before returning in Seattle.
July 21, 2004: During a 10-5 loss to the Orioles, Baltimore's David Newhan hits one to the gap that center fielder Johnny Damon eventually tracks down. With Newhan racing around the bases, Ramirez inexplicably cuts Damon's throw off from the outfield, a near unprecedented move. Newhan winds up with an inside-the-park home run. The Red Sox don't know quite what to make of Ramirez's unorthodox play. "I think I make a pretty strong throw, maybe a one-hopper to third and all of a sudden, I see him come out of nowhere and just dive and I mean ... I would have laughed if the guy hadn't hit an inside the parker," Damon said. "I got the heat for that, needing two cutoff men. I was like, 'Well, I really didn't need Manny there.' It definitely would have one-hopped third."
Oct. 27, 2004: The Red Sox clinch their first World Series championship in 86 years, and Ramirez is named Most Valuable Player of the Fall Classic. "First, there was a lot of negative stuff. I was going to get traded. But I kept my confidence in myself and I believe in me and I believe in me," Ramirez said. "I'm just blessed. I proved a lot of people wrong. I knew I could do this. Thanks, God, I did it." As for the Red Sox ending their 86-year-old "curse"? "I don't believe in curses," Ramirez said. "I believe you make your own destination."
Oct. 30, 2004: One of the lasting images from Boston's euphoric World Series parade is Ramirez on one of the duck boats with a cardboard sign that says, "Jeter is playing golf today, this is better!" As part of Boston's run to the championship, they came back from 3-0 in the ALCS to beat the Yankees in seven games.
Feb. 23, 2005: For one of the few Spring Trainings in his time with the Red Sox, Ramirez arrives a happy camper, still riding the euphoria of the World Series. "It's a great thing, man. It's like, everywhere you go, people want your autograph, and [say], 'I'm from Boston, this and that.' I was in Brazil, nobody knew nothing about baseball out there." Predictably, Ramirez's happiness doesn't last all that much longer. He soon starts another prolonged media shutdown.
May 15, 2005: Ramirez belts career home run No. 400 against the Mariners at Safeco Field. "Just another home run," Ramirez said, breaking his media boycott for a day. "That's a great moment in my life, but tomorrow it doesn't mean nothing. I'm just going back and trying to hit No. 11 [of the season]."
July 19, 2005: Ramirez takes a visit into the Green Monster during a pitching change, and barely gets to his position in time when the game resumes. Legend has it, he was taking a bathroom break.
July 27, 2005: A day after Nixon is forced out of the lineup with a left oblique strain, Ramirez tells bench coach Brad Mills that he doesn't feel like giving up his scheduled day off at Tampa Bay. Schilling is so incensed that he gets into a heated argument with Ramirez in the clubhouse. The confrontation nearly becomes physical, and the players have to be separated.
July 28, 2005: Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reports that Ramirez has become increasingly unhappy in Boston and wants the Red Sox to trade him.
July 29-July 30, 2005: The Red Sox spend the last two days before the Trade Deadline trying to find a match for Ramirez. A trade with the Mets is heavily discussed, but ultimately a deal can't be worked out. Meanwhile, Ramirez is booed by the Fenway faithful repeatedly during the opener of a three-game series against the Twins. He doesn't play the next night.
July 31, 2005: The day starts with Millar walking Ramirez into Francona's office while the media is holding their daily interview. With Millar serving as mock moderator, soliciting questions from reporters, Ramirez playfully engages in the banter and says he has no hard feelings toward Francona. He says his goal is to help the Red Sox win back-to-back World Series. While Francona doesn't start Ramirez that day, giving him a mental health day of sorts, he calls on the slugger in the bottom of the eighth inning to pinch-hit. As if it had been scripted, Ramirez drills a game-winning hit up the middle and the crowd roars with delight. Don Orsillo, calling the game for NESN, proclaimed, "Manny's back, and he's back big!" Ramirez has a superb finish to the season, helping the Red Sox to their third consecutive Wild Card berth.
March 1, 2006: After yet another winter in which he requests a trade, Ramirez at last reports to camp, later than all of his teammates. The Red Sox made a compromise with him, allowing him to be late if he agreed to not play in the World Baseball Classic and put his focus on preparing for the 2006 season. The parking lot is packed with cameras as Ramirez walks in, wearing a Raiders football jersey. Normally humorous during the rare occasions he speaks with the media, Ramirez has a bit of a chip on his shoulder this time. "Let me get this straight, I don't want no questions about the trade rumors, the winter, this and that; you guys want to talk about baseball or whatever, I'm open to talk," Ramirez said. "We could talk all day. I'm here, you know. I don't live in the past, I live in the present. That's it. This is a new year, I'm here. People want me to come back, people want me here, so I'm just going to move on. I'm just going to come and do my job. I get paid to play baseball, that's why I'm here. That's it, what else can I say?"
July 7, 2006: What would the days leading up to the All-Star break be without Ramirez stirring up some controversy? Just like in 2003, he gives up his spot on the team, this time complaining of right knee tendinitis. He releases a statement, marking his first quoted words of any time since his Spring Training address.
Aug. 18-end of 2006 season: With the Red Sox playing out the final game of a gruesome five-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, Ramirez asks out of the game in the fifth inning with right hamstring cramping. Controversy swirls with Ramirez for the rest of the season. As the Red Sox fall out of the race, Ramirez barely plays, complaining of leg pain. He is buried by fans and the media. During a difficult stretch when David Ortiz is dealing with an irregular heartbeat and Jon Lester gets a chilling cancer diagnosis, the Red Sox make little to no effort to come to Ramirez's defense.
Feb. 26, 2007: No joke. Ramirez reports late to Spring Training yet again. He keeps alive his near year-long stretch of not being quoted by a reporter by declining to speak on the first day of camp.
March 20, 2007: In one of the more playful Manny-being-Manny moments, the outfielder puts his gas grill for sale on eBay. ESPN airs a segment about it while the Red Sox are in the clubhouse. Teammates laugh hysterically and start giving Ramirez a hard time. "I'm a businessman, I've got to make a little money," Ramirez hollered to teammate Doug Mirabelli.
Oct. 5, 2007: Though Ramirez had just completed his most so-so regular season in a Boston uniform, he shows nearly from the outset that the postseason will be a different story. In Game 2 of the AL Division Series, Ramirez belts an absolute rocket of a walk-off homer against star Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He stuns everyone by holding a playful post-game press conference. "It feels great," said Ramirez. "It's been a long time since I've done something special like that. I haven't been right all year. But, I guess when you don't feel good and you still get hits, that's when you know you are a bad man."
Oct. 17, 2007: In comments that are greatly misunderstood by the national media but defended by teammates, Ramirez downplays the adversity the Red Sox are in, trailing the Indians, 3-1, in the ALCS. "We're just going to go and play the game, like I've said, and move on. If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year," Ramirez said. "It's not like the end of the world or something. Why should we panic?" Indeed, there was no panic by the Red Sox. Perhaps loosened up a little by Ramirez, and definitely helped by his production, the Sox come all the way back to win the series in seven games. They go on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.
Feb. 27, 2008: When the Red Sox go to the White House to celebrate winning the World Series, Ramirez declines to attend. Even President George W. Bush can't help but take a good-natured barb at Ramirez's flaky nature. "Manny Ramirez isn't here, I guess his grandmother died again," quipped Bush.
May 14, 2008: In a game against the Orioles at Camden Yards, Ramirez made a nice running catch of a Millar drive heading back to the fence in left-center field. Then, it was Manny time. Ramirez leaped off the warning track, stuck his spike in the cushioned wall, reached up with his right hand and high-fived a bleacher patron wearing a Red Sox shirt. He then turned around and fired a throw to Dustin Pedroia, who relayed to first to double-up runner Aubrey Huff for the third out of the inning. "That was great entertainment. ... I don't think it's happened before, and I don't think it'll ever happen again," said then-center fielder Jonathan Van Every, who made his Major League debut that night. Ramirez agreed on the entertainment part. "I think that's part of the game. This is a game -- you've got to go enjoy it and have fun," Ramirez said.
May 31, 2008: In a magical moment on a Saturday night in Baltimore, Ramirez belts career home run No. 500, a blast to right-center. He seems as genuinely happy as at any point in his time with the Red Sox. Little did anyone know it at that time, but things were about to regress again -- perhaps worse than ever before.
June 6, 2008: In the first inkling that Ramirez's happiness is starting to wear off, he takes a swing at teammate Kevin Youkilis in the dugout. Youkilis was not amused when Ramirez chastised him for showing too much emotion after an out. Ramirez apologizes the next day, but starts citing leg injuries again. The slugger seems distracted by his uncertain contract status.
June 28, 2008: Ramirez reaches a new low, shoving widely-respected traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the floor following an apparent dispute over a ticket request. Ramirez apologized to McCormick, but doesn't give much of an explanation during his briefing with reporters.
July 15-23, 2008: Things start to turn irreversibly bad for Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform when he blasts ownership in an interview with the Boston Herald at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. "I want to know what's my situation," Ramirez told the Boston Herald. "I want no more [times] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing. I think I've earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me this is what we want, this is what we want to do." Long one of Ramirez's staunchest defenders, Red Sox owner John W. Henry is displeased with the slugger. "I find remarks that we have been anything other than completely straightforward to be personally offensive," Henry wrote in an e-mail to the Herald. "Manny has been a crucial part of two World [Series] championships. I do not believe we would have won either without him. He has never played a more important role than he has thus far this year." During Boston's West Coast swing immediately after the All-Star break, Ramirez's availability for games becomes a daily question mark as he again started complaining about leg injuries. Reportedly, Ramirez initially refused to get on to the team bus leaving Anaheim. He eventually relented, and accompanied the Red Sox to Seattle.
July 25-27, 2008: When the Red Sox come home to face the Yankees, Ramirez tells the club he isn't healthy enough to start against Joba Chamberlain. So outraged are the Red Sox that they order Ramirez to have MRIs taken on both knees when the outfielder feigns ignorance over which one is bothering him. The MRIs come back clean. Ramirez is back in the lineup the next day, but his days in a Boston uniform seem to be winding down. Ramirez says as much before the finale against New York. "I know they've got me, but hey, enough is enough," Ramirez said. "I'm tired of them, they're tired of me. After 2008, just send me a letter or whatever, you don't even have to call my agent or whatever, 'Thank you for everything, you're going to become a free agent, we're not going to pick up your option in '09.'"
July 31, 2008: In a deadline deal as dramatic as when general manager Theo Epstein traded Nomar Garciaparra four years earlier, he trades Ramirez to the Dodgers as part of a three-team deal that lands Jason Bay in Boston. As reporters stake out Fenway Park during an off-day for the team, Ramirez cleans out his locker and drives his silver Mercedes through the tunnel under the park, declining requests for comment. Just like that, his memorable stint with the Red Sox is over.
Aug. 1, 2008: In his first game as a Dodger, sporting uniform No. 99, Ramirez goes 2-for-4 as Los Angeles loses, 2-1, at home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ramirez hits into a double play with a runner on first and none out in the bottom of the ninth in front of a sellout crowd of 55,239.
Aug. 11, 2008: During a game, Ramirez heads to the clubhouse at the end of the eighth inning and returns to the field late to start the ninth -- only after outfielder Juan Pierre and bench coach Bob Schaefer go looking for him. Ramirez jogs back to his position in left field with his jersey half-buttoned and later says he needed to use the restroom. Dodgers manager Joe Torre downplays it as a simple misunderstanding.
Aug. 14, 2008: Ramirez answers questions that have been building for weeks about cutting off his dreadlocks when he has an inch taken off the length of his hair at a Los Angeles barber shop.
Aug. 30, 2008: Ramirez helps the Dodgers snap an eight-game losing streak with a 4-for-5 night, including his 500th career double, and a pair of homers in Arizona. After going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk the previous night, his eight consecutive hits fall one short of Ron Cey's 31-year-old Los Angeles record.
Sept. 10, 2008: Ramirez continues a sizzling September, slugging a pair of two-run homers to deep right-center field in PETCO Park, where hardly anyone homers. His four RBIs pace the Dodgers to a 7-2 win over the Padres, extending their division lead to 3 1/2 games and trimming their magic number to clinch to 14. After this performance, Ramirez's numbers as a Dodger read as follows: .396 average, 14 homers and 40 RBIs in 38 games, with the Dodgers having gained 5 1/2 games in the standings since the trade.
Sept. 20, 2008: Ramirez hits two more homers and drives in five runs in a 3-for-4 night as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants at home and trim their magic number to five. Ramirez is now hitting .404 with 16 homers, 13 doubles and 49 RBIs in 47 games since being traded to Los Angeles. In that time he leads the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.760) and ranks among the leaders in homers.
Sept. 25, 2008: The Dodgers clinch the National League West title as Arizona is eliminated by St. Louis, and Ramirez addresses the crowd at Dodger Stadium: "What's going on, L.A.?" he says. "Thank you, all the L.A. fans for your support. Mannywood."
Oct. 1, 2008: Playing on the road against the heavily favored Chicago Cubs, the Dodgers take Game 1 of the NL Division Series, 7-2. Ramirez goes 2-for-4 with a homer -- his 25th career postseason long ball -- in his first postseason game in the National League.
Oct. 4, 2008: The Dodgers complete a surprising sweep of the Cubs in the NLDS, beating Chicago, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium to advance to the NL Championship Series, where they'll meet the Philadelphia Phillies. Ramirez continues his postseason hitting streak, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.
Oct. 15, 2008: The Dodgers' season ends with a 5-1 loss in Philadelphia in Game 5 of the NLCS. Ramirez goes 2-for-3 with a homer off Cole Hamels in his final game of the year. After the game, Ramirez discusses his free-agency strategy: "I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I."
Oct. 30, 2008: Ramirez files for free agency.
Nov. 5, 2008: The Dodgers offer Ramirez a two-year deal worth $45 million, plus an option year at $15 million.
Nov. 14, 2008: The Dodgers withdraw the offer of two years, $45 million, plus an option year at $15 million, as their exclusive negotiating window expires. Ramirez never responded to the offer.
Nov. 17, 2008: Ramirez places fourth in NL MVP Award voting -- despite spending half the season in the American League.
Dec. 1, 2008: The Dodgers offer Ramirez salary arbitration.
Dec. 7, 2008: Ramirez does not accept the Dodgers' offer of salary arbitration.
Feb. 1, 2009: The Dodgers make Ramirez an offer of one-year, $25 million.
Feb. 2, 2009: Ramirez rejects the offer of one-year, $25 million.
Feb. 25, 2009: In a Dodger Stadium meeting of club chairman Frank McCourt, general manager Ned Colletti, Ramirez's agent Scott Boras and Boras' associate Mike Fiore, the Dodgers offer Ramirez $25 million for 2009 and $20 million for 2010, then, at the request of Boras, make 2010 a player option.
Feb. 26-28, 2009: The Dodgers and Ramirez spend three days exchanging variations of the two-year, $45 million deal, with deferred compensation the sticking point.
March 4, 2009: Ramirez agrees to a two-year, $45 million contract, with $25 million deferred over five years and a player opt-out clause after one year.
March 18, 2009: Despite being held out of Spring Training action for at least a week because of a hamstring injury, Ramirez takes part in a promotion for DirecTV at Nichols Park in Gilbert, Ariz., home to the Arizona Cricket Club, hitting five of eight cricket pitches.
April 8, 2009: Ramirez goes 2-for-4 against the Padres and drives in three runs, his first RBIs of the season.
April 18, 2009: Ramirez hits his first home run of the year, a first-inning shot against the Colorado Rockies, and has now hit homers against all 30 active Major League clubs.
April 30, 2009: The Dodgers debut the "Mannywood" seating section in the Field Level on the fair side of the left-field foul pole, selling tickets in pairs with a Mannywood T-shirt for $99 -- the same number as Ramirez's uniform.
May 4, 2009: Ramirez hits a first-inning home run, his sixth of the season, drives in three runs, and the Dodgers go on to beat Arizona to begin the season with 11 straight home wins, setting a National League record. They are 34-9 at home since the 2008 All-Star break and 29-7 since Ramirez joined the team.
May 6, 2009: Ramirez doubles and drives in two runs as the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals, 10-3, for their modern-day record 13th straight home victory.
May 7, 2009: Ramirez is suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league's drug policy, having taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a women's fertility drug typically used by users of performance-enhancing drugs to restart their body's natural testosterone production as they come off a cycle.
July 22, 2009: It was Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night, but Ramirez was out of the lineup with a bruised hand. But in the sixth inning of a tied game against the Reds, Ramirez entered as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded, delivering a moment evoking memories for Dodgers fans of Kirk Gibson and Steve Finley. On the first pitch he saw from reliever Nick Masset, Ramirez deposited the ball in the Mannywood section of the left-field bleachers, electrifying the sellout crowd. "It was great, one of the best moments of my career," said Ramirez. "I'm just happy it happened here. It was kind of crazy, but I loved it." It was his 21st grand slam, but few could come close to being as memorable. "Just freakish," said Randy Wolf. "If you saw this in the movies, you'd think, 'No, that's stupid. That stuff doesn't happen.' I'm not like a little kid in the dugout, but after he hit that, I felt like a little kid."
Oct. 3, 2009: Ramirez finishes his abbreviated 2009 regular season with a .290 batting average, 19 homers and 63 RBIs in 352 at-bats over 104 games.
Oct. 19, 2009: The Dodgers are leading the Phillies, 4-3, in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS. Ramirez had been pulled for defensive purposes. Juan Pierre was playing left field for the Dodgers when Jimmy Rollins hit a two-out double into the right-center field gap off Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton to give the Phillies a 5-4 win and a 3-1 lead in the series, which they'd go on to win, 4-1. And where was Ramirez? "I was taking a shower," Ramirez said. "I came out and I saw it on television. Then everybody started coming in and they turned off the television."
Feb. 22, 2010: Ramirez says early in Spring Training that 2010 will be his final season with the Dodgers. "I know I won't be here next year, so I'll just enjoy myself," Ramirez says. "I'm happy I'm here now, I just know I won't be back. I'll wait until September and check out the numbers and see where we're at. The game is still fun, but I'll wait until the season ends and see where my family's at and stuff like that, and make a choice. I just want to see how my body responds and stuff like that."
Aug. 29, 2010: At age 38, after spending three stints on the disabled list with right leg injuries and becoming increasingly limited defensively and on the bases, Ramirez plays his final game with the Dodgers before joining the Chicago White Sox on a waiver claim.
Sept. 1, 2010: Ramirez goes 1-for-3 with a single in his first game as a member of the White Sox as Chicago beats Cleveland, 6-4, in Progressive Field.
Sept. 29, 2010: Ramirez's month-long stint as a member of the White Sox comes to an end, with Ramirez hitting .261 with a homer and two RBIs in 69 at-bats over 24 games.
Jan. 21, 2011: Reports surface that Ramirez and Damon, his former Boston teammate, have agreed to terms on one-year deals with the Tampa Bay Rays. Ramirez is to be paid $2 million.
Feb. 1, 2011: Ramirez and Damon are introduced as members of the Rays in a press conference. "I already made my money," Ramirez says. "I'm here because I love the game, I love to compete. It doesn't matter how much you make. All you want is a chance to prove to people that you still could do it."
April 6, 2011: Mired in a 1-for-16 slump, Ramirez is a late scratch from the Rays lineup against the Angels. "I know it's early in the season, but I still think he's pressing a bit," Rays manager Joe Maddon says. "I really think he's trying to carry too much of this load right now. I want him to understand that I'm seeing that, that I think he's trying way too hard. All I want him to do is his part, nobody else's part."
April 7, 2011: Ramirez is away from the team dealing with a "family matter," according to Maddon, who says the slugger is expected to join the team in time to play in the following night's game. "It's a personal thing," Maddon says. "It's something that we were aware of and it just so happens to be today. It is unavoidable."
April 8, 2011: Manny Ramirez retires as a player, according to a statement issued by Major League Baseball. The statement says Ramirez had "an issue" under MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and informed the league he was retiring rather than "continue with the process under the program." The statement, in full, reads as follows: "Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the drug program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter."