Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez returned to Fenway Park this past weekend for the first time since being exiled to Los Angeles during the summer of 2008, receiving a somewhat mixed reception from Red Sox fans. Reminding his readers of Manny’s many transgressions (shoving the traveling secretary, general loafing, being the most potent offensive force on a team that won two World Series, etc.), the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley argues in one sentence, “he was quitting on the fans when he quit on the team”, while also insisting Ramirez should’ve acknowledged the paying customers over the last 3 days.
What remains a mystery is why Ramirez was either unable or unwilling to tune out the booing and allow himself the satisfaction of knowing that, in spite of everything that happened, there are still Sox fans who love him. Had he been able to make that distinction, perhaps he could have stepped out of the batter™s box, removed his helmet, and raised it into the air.
Such a simple time-honored gesture. Old Hoss Radnbourn was doffing his cap to the fans at Messer Field when he was pitching for the 1884 Providence Grays. And the betting here is that if Ramirez could have found a way to remove his helmet, some of the fans who had been booing him would have chosen to let bygones be bygones and given him his props.
That™s what happened in 1993 when Wade Boggs returned to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees, and in 2006 when Johnny Damon returned, also in Yankee gray.
It would be overstating it to say that Boggs and Damon won over the fans. But they did win over some of the fans, and, anyway, it was the right thing to do for those fans who had been with them all the way.
It would also be a huge understatement to say Ramirez received more grief from local writers and whiner-liners than Boggs or Damon combined, at least when any of the above were actually playing in Boston.