Before Manny Ramirez makes his return to the dugout as a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs, he made a stop by his old stomping grounds at Fenway Park to partake in the Boston Red Sox celebration honoring their 2004 World Series championship team on Wednesday night. And it was there that long time teammate Johnny Damon exacted a little bit of revenge that was ten years in the making.
For all of us his achievements and the great memories Ramirez helped create, the one moment that stands out above them all might also be his most unusual on a baseball field. During that 2004 season, Ramirez, who was playing left field, mysteriously and without provocation cut off a throw made by Damon, who was playing in center field at the time, during a game at Fenway Park.
Ramirez's ill-advised efforts did not help Boston's cause as David Newhan of the Baltimore Orioles circled with an inside-the-park home run.
Historically speaking, that may have been the exact moment when the "Manny being Manny" phrase was born. He was always unpredictable. He was always different. But there's nothing more unpredictable or different in baseball than one outfielder cutting off another's throw.
On Wednesday, Damon, who was always recognized as one of the weaker armed outfielders during his days, finally got even, cutting in front of Jason Varitek to intercept Ramirez's first pitch. He then added a Manny-style tumble to punctuate his effort.
It was all smiles afterwards as Ramirez and Damon shared a hug at the pitcher's mound, and the crowd absolutely ate the moment up. In fact, they were behind Manny from the moment he emerged from within the Green Monster in left field, much the same way we've seen him do in the past. Sometimes Manny would disappear in there during a pitching change, and on at least one occasion he was able to sneak in a phone call during that abbreviated period. Because that's just how Manny rolled.
On Wednesday, he was greeted by chants of "Manny, Manny, Manny" as the crowd chose to focus on the good times from a tumultuous relationship between player, organization and fan base, that didn't end on the best of terms in 2008.
And that was just one of the many feel good stories to come out of the Red Sox celebration. Another was the surprise appearance of Curt Schilling, who's been battling cancer for the past several months. He was accompanied by his son Gehrig, and his presence undoubtedly made the night feel complete for Red Sox fans.
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