The city of Albuquerque and its baseball fans experienced something like never before Tuesday night when Manny Ramirez donned a ‘Topes jersey and made his way onto the field in front of a record-high 15,321 fans – the most ever in attendance for an Albuquerque baseball game of any kind. Tuesday’s crowd was followed up with a throng of 13,076 on Wednesday.
The initial buzz around the community started around last Thursday, when reports of the rehabbing Ramirez traveling to the ‘Querq began, steadily growing from speculation to truth. Since then, the city, which already holds a loud and proud L.A. Dodgers loyalty, has simply gone nuts. Talk of Manny is talk of the town!
And…despite going 0-for-3 with a walk thus far, Manny has not disappointed, entertaining fans with his mere presence.
Ramirez was welcomed with cheers, standing ovations, and hordes of New Mexicans clad in Dodger blue. Fans lined the railing from the clubhouse to the field, sported dreadlocks and welcomed the slugger with signs like “Mannywood, N.M.” and “Man-Ram: Red or Green?”
Prior to the start of the game, Ramirez spent about 10 minutes signing autographs along the third base stands and next to the home team dugout as well as for members of the Little League Teams of the Game present.
Manny strode on the field saluting the crowd holding up a pair of bats to a roar of cheers. He participated in all on-field activities with his ‘Topes teammates prior to the game and seemed to make instant friends with his temporary team.
In both of Ramirez’s at-bats, the crowd couldn’t help but stand, while flashbulbs blinked in all directions.
Besides bringing together an entire community around an exciting event, Ramirez’s appearance has created a plethora of national recognition for the city of Albuquerque as ESPN, MLB Network, The L.A. Times, The New York Times and a variety of other media outlets, in addition to the contingent of local media, centered around Isotopes Park.
The important thing to keep in mind is that Ramirez is here to get back into playing shape. He is expected to play deeper into Thursday’s game, possibly appearing in seven innings.
Albuquerque is just as thrilled to welcome Dodgers representatives, including Kim Ng, Josh Rawitch, Joe Reaves and Manny Mota to The Lab for this special series.
The Isotopes organization is privileged the L.A. Dodgers were willing, confident and supportive of bringing such an experience to the city of Albuquerque.
For more information about Manny’s visit as well as everything Dodgers, visit the excellent and informative Inside the Dodgers