Two-time major league champion and hall of famer Manny Ramirez is still swinging and looking to slug some home runs for the Sydney Blue Sox
Sydney has played host to some of the world’s biggest athletes from Alessandro del Piero to Australia’s own Andrew Bogut, now baseball royalty is aiming to achieve similar heights in the Harbour City.
Major-league Baseball legend and Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, Manny Ramirez, has signed with the Sydney Blue Sox for the upcoming Australian season as the club’s player coach.
Ramirez may be 48 and well past his prime years, but his signing is a major coup given his experience at the top of baseball.
The Dominican Republic born star is a Major-league Baseball veteran of 19 years, a 12 time All-Star and a two-time World Series Champion.
He has made approximately $288 million in salary throughout his career and Ramirez, who crushed 555 home runs and 1831 RBIs in the majors, is certainly the best credentialed and most notable signing in Australian Baseball League history.
Fresh out of 14-days quarantine, Ramirez, who ran the streets with glee after getting his “freedom”, was unveiled by the Blue Sox on Wednesday at the Sydney Tower’s famous skywalk platform.
The Red Sox legend’s last MLB game was back in 2011 and he last played professionally in Japan in 2017, but still draws a seven-figure salary from the Red Sox until 2026 as part of a payout deal.
He also played in China, in the Domincan Republic and was even helping with his son’s high school team, which kept his thirst for playing going.
So rather than enjoy retirement, Ramirez decided to come halfway around the world just to play more and help make baseball bigger in Australia, a country which has long punched above its weight in producing major league players.
“I still wanted to test myself at a professional level, regardless of my age,” he said on Wednesday.
“I then reached out to my agent and said, ‘find me somewhere to play’, and Australia sounded like a nice place.
“I could have gone to the Dominican Republic to play, but I wanted to see another country and I‘d like to offer all of my knowledge to the youth.
“Australia could be regarded as a baseball destination worldwide, and I‘m hopeful to contribute to that.”
Ramirez, who has come to Australia without his family, has just over a fortnight until he makes his debut for the Sydney Blue Sox on December 17 in Blacktown.
Easing of crowd restrictions in NSW stadiums should ensure a packed house too for the four-game series against the defending champion Melbourne Aces.
The Blue Sox also announced the club’s new hitting coach Rachel Balkovec on Wednesday.
Balkovec is the first ever full-time female hitting coach for a Major-league Baseball team in the USA.She comes to the Sydney Blue Sox from the New York Yankees where she has been a hitting coach for the last year.