Rob Gronkowski’s departure from the New England Patriots offered a reminder: There sure have been some fascinating athletes to come through this region.
As such, NESN.com is taking local fans on a lighthearted trip down memory lane by highlighting 10 “charismatic characters” in Boston sports history. You know, those enthralling players with big personalities who captivated audiences for reasons beyond their on-field performance.
The Boston Red Sox have had a number of memorable players throughout the years — but none quite like Manny Ramirez.
The outfielder joined the Red Sox before the 2001 season and immediately made his presence known. Ramirez spent parts of eight seasons in Boston, where he was named an All-Star seven times and won six Silver Slugger Awards.
Still, it never was just about baseball, and Ramirez’s interesting persona was chalked up to “Manny being Manny.”
There were the times he disappeared into the Green Monster — not before, not after, but during games.
And the time he cut off a throw from Johnny Damon in 2004 for no reason, leading to an inside-the-park home run.
The antics only continued off the field, too, with Ramirez’s run-in with a traveling secretary Jack McCormick ahead of a 2008 game ultimately being one of the final straws before the Red Sox traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ramirez was a somewhat controversial Boston sports figure, as many fans questioned his effort at times. But there was no denying his talent or the entertainment factor that came with watching him on a nightly basis.
Nothing encapsulates Ramirez more than his iconic high-five double play in May 2008.
The outfielder made an impressive catch against the Baltimore Orioles. Rather than stopping and throwing the ball back, he first jumped up the wall to high-five a fan.
Amazingly, Boston still somehow pulled off a double play.
“Hey, everybody is invited to my house tonight for free drinks!”
— Ramirez, during the Red Sox’s 2007 World Series parade.
“Manny confounded everyone on the club. That was a big part of his appeal. Everything seemed out of place unless Manny was in la-la land, keeping us guessing what he would do next. How would he wear his hair? Why did he spray me with half a bottle of his cologne? Why did he ask me, ‘Hey, did you know there are men on their way to the moon right now?’ ”
— Former Red Sox teammate Pedro Martinez, in his 2015 autobiography.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images