Boston’s mercurial Manny Ramirez is “a deeply frustrating employee”, writes The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath, “just subversive enough —‘affably apathetic’ is is how one of his bosses put it recently”to create headaches for any manage who worries about precedent.”
He is perhaps the closest thing in contemporary professional sports to a folk hero, an unpredictable public figure about whom relatively little is actually known but whose exploits, on and off the field, are recounted endlessly, with each addition punctuated by a shrug and the observation that it™s just œManny being Manny. When I asked his teammate David Ortiz, himself a borderline folk hero, how he would describe Ramirez, he replied, œAs a crazy motherfucker. Then he pointed at my notebook and said, œYou can write it down just like that: ˜David Ortiz says Manny is a crazy motherfucker.™ That guy, he™s in his own world, on his own planet. Totally different human being than everyone else.”
According to lore, Ramirez has, or had, two Social Security numbers and five active driver™s licenses”none of which he managed to present to the officer who pulled him over in 1997 for driving with illegally tinted windows and the stereo blasting at earsplitting volume. œThe cop knew who he was, as Sheldon Ocker, the Indians beat reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal, tells it. œHe 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.
œWhen Manny first came to the Red Sox, he would stand in the batter™s box, and the umpire would call ball four, and he would get back in the batter™s box, former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, (now the president of the fledgling Israel Baseball League), told me. œHe did this in his first series at Fenway Park and again on his first road trip. After the third such incident, Duquette ventured down into the locker room. œI said, ˜Manny, let me ask you something. I was just wondering why you get back in the batter™s box after ball four.™ He said, ˜I don™t keep track of the balls.™ He said, ˜I don™t keep track of the strikes, either, until I got two.™ Then he said, ˜Duke, I™m up there looking for a pitch I can hit. If I don™t get it, I wait for the umpire to tell me to go to first. Isn™t that what you™re paying me to do?™
Though I suggest you check out the entire article before I go overboard and quote more than I have already, there is one final tidbit I’ll leave you with : Dan Shaughnessy’s son wore no. 24 while playing high school ball, “in homage” to Ramirez.