Last week brought the mixed-bag news that the Texas Rangers signed 41-year-old Manny Ramirez to a minor-league deal with the hopes of calling him up. Those reports mentioned that Ramirez was leaving his team in Taiwan–which means that Manny Ramirez was on a baseball team in Taiwan! When I heard that, I immediately thought of Stephon Marbury in China. And I thought about this incredible Wells Tower story about that strange adventure. And I started searching for stories (in English) about Manny’s time with the Rhinos. The curious part of me was hoping a full narrative of his time there existed. The ambitious writer part of me was hoping it didn’t.
Last night, I found this excellent BuzzFeed story recounting his whole time in Taiwan, with all the odd moments you might expect. Jump for a few highlights.
A description of the moment Manny hits a home run:
“The stadium explodes as Manny rounds the bases at his notorious slow trot. People jump and hug each other, horns blast, thundersticks crack, and one man holds up a huge sign that, inexplicably, features a Dallas Cowboys helmet with Manny’s number on it.”
“Manny’s sole traveling companion is a retired nurse from their old New York neighborhood of Washington Heights named Carlos “Macaco” Ferreira. A slight man with a Buddha-like combination of belly, soft smile, and shiny head, Macaco was Manny’s Little League coach and has been a presence in his life ever since. Everyone in the Rhinos organization calls him “Manny’s uncle.” During warm-ups, Macaco plays catch with Manny’s teammates on the field and tosses practice balls to kids in the stands. But once the game starts, Macaco is not in the dugout, or in the air-conditioned VIP section; he’s in the concessions line to buy a $2 Taiwan Beer before heading to the stands to sit by himself.”
And the obligatory Manny antics:
“For Manny’s birthday in May, his teammates — all of whom are clean-shaven and short-haired — donned fake dreadlocks. On the day I arrived, the Rhinos’ impish outfield coach, Lee “Jimmy” Chu-Ming, and several of the Rhinos players are wearing T-shirts with the phrase “Jimmy Being Jimmy” emblazoned across the chest. Apparently, to get Jimmy back for bringing up “Manny Being Manny,” the phrase that fans, writers, and even teammates in the States used any time he did something unusual or inscrutable, which was often, Manny printed a bunch of the shirts and distributed them on Jimmy’s birthday. And on Rookie Day — Manny being both Manny and, technically, a Taiwan-league rookie — he apparently took a team train trip while wearing an Incredible Hulk costume.”