Remembering the best of Manny

April, 26, 2011
BALTIMORE -- Because I have written many critical things about Manny Ramirez, there is a perception that I harbored a great dislike for him It is true that I found Manny to be maddening in many respects, especially on those occasions when I felt he quit on the team. But dislike Manny? Even teammates who hated some of the things he pulled found it virtually impossible to dislike the guy.

It was Pedro Martinez who said Manny was living in "La-La" land long before he went to the Dodgers. He was a Man-Ram child living in perpetual adolescence, usually smiling (except to reporters, who could become invisible within his line of sight), seemingly carefree, living for those moments when he held a bat in his hands.

Sara Rimer, a former reporter for the New York Times, knew Manny from the beginning, and did a memorable series on him when he was still a legendary high school player at George Washington High in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan. She has remained in touch with Manny, and written about him, off and on over the years. Rimer, now the chief health and science media relations officer for Boston University, wrote a piece in Tuesday's New York Times entitled, "Before Manny Became Manny."

Here's an excerpt:

When I heard that Manny Ramirez had retired, the first person I called was his high school coach, Steve Mandl. I reached him at George Washington High School in Upper Manhattan, where he has coached varsity baseball for 27 years.

He was sad and stunned. I pictured him at the dented metal desk in his cramped office, where a 20-something Manny Ramirez in his Cleveland Indians uniform looms from the autographed poster that hangs on the wall.

“Steve,” I said, “that was real, wasn’t it -- the Manny in high school, that swing, his work ethic, all that pure talent?”

“Oh, yeah,” Mandl said, “that was real.”

Here's the link to the story. I highly recommend it.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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