The Boston Red Sox have had some serious sluggers on the payroll over the years, but none shined brighter in October than Manny Ramirez.
There’s something special about baseball when that calendar flips to October. The crispness in the air, the leaves changing color, and the crack of the bat. They all go hand-in-hand to create the best time of the year for baseball fans, the postseason. For the Red Sox, it’s been a pretty good time of the year in recent history, and specifically for Manny Ramirez.
That’s right, Red Sox Nation! We’re talking about the man, the myth, the legend, Manny. At times we loved Manny’s antics and at times we all probably wanted to be done with him, but he always kept us coming back for more. Today, we’re going to look at a very specific part of Ramirez’s game and that’s the long-ball.
Throughout the history of the game, there’s just one man atop the home run mountain when it comes to the postseason, Manny. He holds the Guinness record for most home runs in the postseason at 29. To put it into perspective the next player on the list is Bernie Williams with 22. If you want to really analyze just how damn good Manny was in October, of the Top-10, only Nelson Cruz is still active with 17.
Manny being Manny was oftentimes a mixed bag of emotions for Red Sox fans, as I mentioned above. When it meant that he was mashing balls over the Green Monster we were all in on the shenanigans. When it meant that he was cutting off relay throws for no reason or sitting on live balls, we were fed up. But for every frustrating moment, he gave us there were easily several more positive ones.
Interestingly enough, he did the most October damage while with the Indians, hitting 13 of his 29 homers for Cleveland. However, the 11 that came while he was in a Red Sox uniform may have been the most impactful of the bunch. He never won a ring with the Indians or Dodgers, but his postseason heroics did deliver two to Boston.
For a good stretch in the early 2000s, it felt like the Red Sox were going to meet either the Angels, A’s, or White Sox in the ALDS every season. It was as if the two teams had a standing reservation for that first week of the playoffs. Also for that time, Manny was at his hottest and he also had David Ortiz in the lineup causing headaches for pitchers the league over.
Of those familiar foes ManRam really did a number on the Angels, whacking a trio of dingers between 2004 and 2007. I recently went on a deep-dive on YouTube watching Manny highlights and when the shot of his walk-off from Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS I got chills. The Sox had stormed back to tie the game and had runners on in the bottom of the ninth for the big man. From the moment that his bat hit the ball, everyone knew that it was gone.
He stood at home plate, hands triumphantly raised above his head in celebration of what he’d just done. Boston already took Gane 1 pretty comfortably at a 4-0 clip, and they would dominate Game 3, 9-1. This was the test though, did this team have the mettle and fortitude to get it done when times were tough, and they proved they did. We all know how this story ends, another nailbiter in the ALCS followed by their second World Series crown in four years.
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It’s hard to imagine anyone knocking the king off the throne at this point considering there’s only one active player on the Top-10 list. This is likely a record that’ll stand for some time as we know the postseason is wildly unpredictable. It’s hard to see a team go on the type of run that we saw from those 90s Yankees did. Just look at the other postseason record, it’s riddled with names from the Evil Empire, and deservedly so, they were some damn good squads.
As the time has passed since Manny left Boston my mixed emotions have pretty much flipped to being adoration. Yeah, I still have to scratch my head when I see a replay of his follies but when I weigh it against all of the good that he did for the Red Sox, I can’t help but smile. There’s a reason he’s the king of the postseason homer, he was a generational hitter that could probably still smash a hanging curve to the moon today if he wanted to.
A few weeks ago a report came out that Manny was still working out and hoping to get himself on a team internationally so he could continue his career. Many may feel that that’s a desperation move from a guy well past his prime. To me, I welcome it. If him playing overseas allows us to see him smash homer into the next galaxy then I’m all for it. Because when Manny was being Manny, great things happened for the Red Sox, and I’ll always be thankful for that.