When career home run number 500 left the bat of Boston Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez on 31 May versus the Orioles in Baltimore, two things were made clear. The first is that he is all but assured a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown when he makes his first appearance on the ballot; given the likelihood that he will play another four years, in Boston or elsewhere, that places him in line for 2018, so be sure to reserve your tickets now. The only question might be how they are going to design in those long-flowing dreadlocks he wears today, but I digress. The second is that when the time comes for the powers that be at the Hall to chose what cap Ramirez will be fashioned atop those dreads, it’s all but assured that he will be sporting the spoked “B” that he wears on his cap today as a member of the Red Sox.
Looking at the numbers through Sunday, it is amazing how close his numbers compare between his eight seasons with the Cleveland Indians and his seven-plus with Boston. Having played 82 more games with Boston, he has 111 more hits, 33 more home runs, and 45 more RBI that he did in Cleveland, and his batting average (.312) and slugging percentage (.591) is nearly identical to his time with the Indians. That, my friends, is consistency over a 16-year stretch. So what will be the difference when the Hall prepares his plaque? How about All-Star honors in every season with Boston, which will include this season when the final votes are tallied? How about post-season totals that include a batting average of .321, 100 points higher than with Cleveland, and near equal or better numbers in hits, home runs, and RBI in nine fewer games? How about being on two World Series winners and earning MVP honors in the 2004 Fall Classic?
Should Ramirez remain in Boston through at least the 2010 season, he would also be eligible under the team’s strict guidelines to have his number (24) retired and posted on the right field façade, and it would be fitting to include him in the same company as another great Red Sox hitter, Ted Williams, who defended the same position as Ramirez does today. Whether you love him or loathe him, it’s clear that his numbers put him in the same company as other great hitters like Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Frank Robinson, to name a few, all of whom have been permanently enshrined among the game’s greats. It should be equally satisfying for Red Sox fans who have seen him play here for seven-plus seasons and counting to know that he will enter the Hall wearing a Boston baseball cap.