Like they say, if you hit, you don’t sit.
He was an enigma. No one could ever say for certain what was going on in his head. Though the mystery of who he was as a man, baseball player, and overall human being may have overshadowed his accomplishments, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing. He was born to swing a baseball bat.
He had experienced his share of controversy late in his career, and some will argue that it has tainted his credibility as an elite baseball player and truly gifted hitter.
I’m not here to talk about Manny being Manny. Or the PED’S. I want to simply showcase what made him unique.
As a fan, and a player, I find myself simply appreciating his idiosyncrasies while overlooking THE trespasses he may have committed. The truth is, he loved the game. He wasn’t afraid of being challenged by any hitter, and most important of all, he played for himself. Regardless of your disposition of Manny, the ability to find your voice in this game is something that many players struggle to find throughout their whole careers.
He found it at 22, and never stopped talking. Though he spoke with his bat.
With each swing, and each at-bat, you were watching someone perform who was living their life purpose. We could all learn a little something from that.
All I can ask now is……”Where is Manny now?”
I can honestly say, I miss watching him play even though, it’s been less than a year, and he hasn’t even been out one full season, but the nostalgia has seemed to have already manifest it’s self.
I would imagine that I will always appreciate the fact that he was absolutely, positively, and unequivocally unique as they come, and for that I am thankful.
Here are my top five examples of what I miss.
Dave Chisum (Manny’s teammate, Appalachian League Burlington Indians, 1991): He was a first-round draft pick, and I think he got a quarter of a million dollars. He bought a white Nissan 300 ZX, and he didn’t even know how to drive stick. I said, “Take me for a ride.” He says, “I don’t know how to drive it.” I said, “Manny, why the hell did you buy it?” He goes, “‘Cause I like it.” I said, “Manny, you know they make these in automatic, right?” He goes, “Yeah, but I’ve heard they go faster in stick.”
Brian Graham (Manny’s manager, Canton-Akron Indians, AA, 1992): He would come into the clubhouse, take his street clothes off. He’d go to one person’s locker, put their long underwear on. Go to another person’s locker; if they had a T-shirt he liked, he’d put that on. He’d just pick socks out of someone’s locker, put those on. He’d use your belt if your belt was close by. He’d put your hat on. If he liked your shirt or your shoes, he would wear them home that night.
Joe DeLucca (retired scout, Cleveland Indians): The day he signed [with the Indians], I almost jumped off the floor about three feet. I remember showing Manny exactly what he had to do. I printed his name out, and I says, “You gotta sign it exactly like this. On this line.” And doggone if he didn’t sign it where his mother had to sign it. So you can’t erase it. You can’t do any cross-outs. So I gotta go type a whole new one out. I still have the original contract.
Adrian Oviedo (Manny’s teammate, Alexis Ferreiras Little League, 1985–86, and George Washington High School, 1990–91): I remember one time in Pee Wee League, we had this kid named Bo. And he had, like, size 14 feet. One day Manny didn’t bring his cleats to a game. He gotta borrow this guy’s cleats. They looked like small boats. And he went out and hit three home runs in ‘em.
Steve Mandl (Manny’s baseball coach, George Washington High School, New York City, 1989–91): Manny’d hit three home runs and a pop-up, and when you asked him how he did, he’d say, “I hit a pop-up.”