We have all heard the phrase, “for the love of the game.” The true athletes who have committed themselves to the betterment of their sport and are not in it simply for the money and celebrity status are few and far between. One of the key characteristics of this type of person is their career continuity even after formally retiring from the game. Manny Ramirez is one such person, but unlike many of the heralded sports figures, he has had more than his share of controversy that plagues what would otherwise be a no-brainer Hall of Fame selection. At 46 years old, Ramirez has spoken out about the good and the bad of his baseball career, including the “Manny being Manny” persona that would dog him for the final years of his baseball career. In 2011 he would be handed a 100 game suspension for testing positive for PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), a suspension that he would not accept but instead decide to retire. This was not the first of his PED suspensions – in 2009 he served a 50 game suspension.
Yet all the mistakes he would make would not deter him from pursuing the love of the game. After having done stints with the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays, he found a way to remain connected to baseball by playing an active role with the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. He then took his talents abroad in 2013, playing in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Four years later he would sign with the Japanese league Shikoku Island League Plus as a member of the Kochi Fighting Dogs – at the age of 44. He then signed on with a Chicago Cubs minor league franchise as a hitting instructor.
As much as he has stayed connected with baseball, in recent interviews his focus has shifted considerably from the “Manny being Manny” persona to one where baseball, while still being his passion, has taken a back seat to what he says are the more important things in life. One thing that both proponents and detractors of Ramirez agree about on his possibility of being elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame is that he has the statistics to warrant election. But it is his off the field antics and suspensions that cloud the possibility. As a matter of numbers, he was a 12-time All-Star selection when he first became eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. Unfortunately, he received 23.8% of votes in his first year of eligibility, while getting 22.0% and 22.8% of the total number of votes since then.
While there are many more vocal athletes who publicly make their case when voting time comes around, Ramirez doesn’t seem to be fazed by all the commotion. Like every player, he hopes to make it to Cooperstown before his eligibility expires. But in a recent interview with Boston.com he admits to having made some of the less beneficial choices during his professional career. Reflecting on things, he stated that he took everything for granted that he had either worked hard to earn or that were just a matter of being a local and national sports celebrity.
In that same interview, Ramirez clearly defined the things that currently are the most important in his life: “my family, my kids, my friends.” He says that he wouldn’t change those values for anything, and based on his life since retirement, he is keeping true to his word. On the one hand, he realizes that everything he has- the money, the popularity, the opportunities – have all been derived from baseball. On the other hand, he recognizes that all of that can only take you so far, and then it is time to do a reckoning.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Ramirez has an estimated total net worth of $110 million. That is more than enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle while being able to focus on other things. His PED days, while clearly an obstacle for his admission into the Hall of Fame, are largely behind him and he tends to everyday businesses with the knowledge and maturity that is indicative of a person who realizes what he has in front of him. Many retired professional athletes go awry with their lives and never seem to appreciate the life they lived. Ramirez is remiss about some of his past decisions and doesn’t want to fritter away everything he has built up over the years.
Like many professional athletes after retirement, they prefer to keep their personal lives private. But as his popularity continues among his strongest supporters, he continues to do the occasional interview. Regarding his life after baseball, Ramirez quipped that raising two boys is a far more challenging task than facing his old nemesis, the Yankees. It’s not clear whether his sons will later pursue a career in baseball, but that argument is left for another day in the future. Fans of Ramirez will say he has turned his life around 180 degrees, with virtually no focus on “Manny being Manny” and a singular focus on building a better future.
From a baseball perspective, Manny Ramirez has achieved just about everything a player could want from spending 19 years in the major leagues. True, the Hall of Fame issue remains, but even if his past sins prevent his entry it doesn’t seem like that will have a significant impact on his future life. From a personal perspective, his life has only just begun with his redirected focus on wife, children, and family. It can be a lesson for all of us to keep on moving forward regardless of past events, whether or not we have arrived at where we want to be in life.