Ramirez carries flag onto field on return to Red Sox
HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
(05-11) 19:54 PDT BOSTON (AP) —
Manny Ramirez led his Red Sox teammates out of the dugout Tuesday night, waving a small American flag on his first full day of U.S. citizenship.
With the flag rippling in the wind, he ran to left field as fans cheered, then went to the seats along the foul line and handed it to a fan.
“I’m very proud to be an American citizen,” he said with a big smile before Boston’s game against Cleveland.
Ramirez, 31, moved from his native Dominican Republic to New York City when he was 13. His parents and sisters are citizens.
“I was the last one to do it and they were always telling me, `Hey, you’ve got to do this,”‘ he said. “So I just went ahead and did it.”
Ramirez had played in all 31 of his team’s games before missing Monday night’s 8-4 loss to Cleveland to attend a two-hour ceremony in Miami during which he became a citizen. General manager Theo Epstein said it was an excused absence.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Ramirez said. “There were probably like 2,000 people there (from) all over the world, Costa Rica, Colombia … Jamaica, so everything went fine.”
His first at-bat as a U.S. citizen wasn’t as pleasant. He struck out against C.C. Sabathia leading off the second. After the top of the inning, “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood was played over the sound system. As Ramirez walked into the batter’s box, “America” by Neil Diamond was played.
Ramirez finished 0-for-3 but the Red Sox beat the Indians 5-3.
“I was so proud of Manny,” said Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, a fellow native of the Dominican Republic. “We all know what America represents to us and the opportunity we got in America. To actually let us be citizens of this country is a great honor.”
Ramirez said he took the required citizenship test about six months ago and learned the date of the ceremony during spring training.
“It’s going to be good that I took a day off,” he said. The Red Sox are in a stretch of games in 16 straight days.
Ramirez, who has dual citizenship in the Dominican Republic and the United States, is registered to vote in Florida.