Though repeated PED scandals would ultimately stain his legacy, Manny Ramirez was, at his peak, among the greatest hitters of all time. The former Indians and Red Sox slugger was also one of the sport’s more compelling personalities with fans and media quick to downplay his eccentricities as instances of “Manny Being Manny.” As detailed by Zack Meisel in a riveting long-form piece for The Athletic, Ramirez’s bizarre quirks, particularly during his decade-long stint in Cleveland, were even wilder than anyone could have imagined.
The whole profile is worth a read, with many of the anecdotes revolving around Manny’s prolific carelessness with money, hoarding wads of cash in his locker and car while routinely neglecting to deposit game checks. A Rangers locker room attendant once came across a check Manny had left behind, discovering it in a pair of cowboy boots. According to Meisel, Ramirez would often forget his suitcase on road trips and have to buy new wardrobes, which he would usually leave in the visitor’s clubhouse when the Indians returned home.
On top of being one of the most renowned sluggers of his era, the Dominican-born outfielder was also a known locker-room thief, shamelessly helping himself to whatever clothes or equipment he happened to find in the Indians’ clubhouse. Apparently, Ramirez’s kleptomania knew no bounds, with the 2004 World Series MVP pocketing everything from bats to teammates’ undergarments. Prompted by complaints from other players including Jose Mesa, clubhouse attendants were forced to relocate Ramirez within the Cleveland locker room on numerous occasions.
“If a player were missing a piece of equipment or an element of his uniform, he would make a beeline for Manny’s locker, a graveyard of teammates’ belongings,” Meisel wrote of Ramirez’s “frequent pilfering.” “No layer was off-limits. If Manny suffered through a skid at the plate, he’d snatch an article of clothing—a T-shirt, socks, even underwear—from a teammate who was thriving.”
Despite over $200 million in career earnings, Ramirez was famous for making teammates foot bills for hotel room service and expensive restaurant tabs. “After a night of premium seafood and a few bottles of wine with teammates, he’d excuse himself to use the restroom when the bill arrived,” wrote Meisel. “And he’d never return.”
“You have no idea how many times he’d say, ‘Hey, I forgot my wallet,’” recalls Carlos Baerga, a teammate of Ramirez’s on both the Red Sox and Indians.
Though Ramirez has often been framed as an enigma, his passion for hitting and immense talent were always evident. “He was a hitting savant,” said former Indians executive Dan O’Dowd, who remembers Ramirez, who grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, being homesick early in his career. “The only time he was ever comfortable in his life, at that point in time, was when he was in the batter’s box.”