Manny Ramirez is another player on this list whose importance to the Red Sox goes beyond his accomplishments on the field. Anyone who remembers Ramirez during his time in Boston knows all about the monstrous offensive numbers he put up for the team (much of it chemically enhanced as is now known) as well as his various goofy shenanigans.
“Manny being Manny” became as much a part of his career in Boston as the towering home runs and incredible RBI totals. While he was, shall we say, not the most competent left fielder the team has ever had, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts and Manny was one of the most popular and productive Red Sox players of the 2000s.
Where his importance in the team’s history really comes into play, beyond the two World Series victories he helped the Red Sox win in 2004 and 2007, was in how he came to be on the team in the first place. In 2000, the Red Sox were not seen as a marquee destination for the top free agents, especially those who were not white.
In the wake of Alex Rodriguez‘ then record-breaking 10-year, $252 million free agent contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000, the Red Sox inked Ramirez to the second-largest free agent contract in baseball history. Manny signed with the Red Sox for 10 years and $200 million and went on to spend the next eight seasons with the team before being traded midway through the 2008 season amid some frustrating and ugly incidents which precipitated his departure.
Manny was the first marquee free agent to sign in Boston and showed the rest of the league that A) the Red Sox were willing to shell out big money on talent and B) that players of color could and would be embraced by Red Sox fans contrary to the team’s and city’s uglier past. Along with Pedro and later on David Ortiz, Manny energized the Dominican community in Boston which became one of the most loyal and vocal segments of Red Sox Nation.
For opening the floodgates for top free agents to sign with the Red Sox alone, Manny is one of the most important players in the team’s history. The prodigious offensive numbers he put up and all of the games he helped them win, along with the continued reputation of Boston as a destination for top free agents, are his Red Sox legacy.