Returning to baseball at 47, soon to be 48, years old after a five-year absence from the game? Now that's just Manny being Manny.
According to the Taiwan Times (h/t ESPN), former MLB slugger Manny Ramirez wants to make his return to baseball in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, where he spent a season in 2013 playing for the EDA Rhinos (now the Fubon Guardians). He remembers that short stint incredibly fondly, saying that he was treated like 'baseball royalty' and that he "felt like a 'kid at a candy store'."
His production supported those sentiments, as he raked at a .352/.422/.555 clip, clubbing eight home runs and driving in 43 runs in just 49 games. His baseball career was finished shortly after, with his final stint in a professional league (the Dominican Winter League) ending in 2015.
Ramirez says that his experience in the CPBL transcended the baseball diamond, as he fell in love with the food, the tea and the "incredibly respectful and loyal" fans who Manny says remind him of being home in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps it's for all these reasons that he would opt for the CPBL despite existing offers coming from the independent Atlantic League, boasting teams like the Lancaster Barnstormers and the Sugar Land Skeeters. Notable figures to play in the Atlantic League include Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Sparky Anderson, and NBA great Tracy McGrady.
Ramirez, who picked up a career-high 28.2% of the National Baseball Hall of Fame vote in 2020, says that he aims to find a roster spot in the CPBL despite the coronavirus pandemic that has kept him at home with his family in South Florida. He's been keeping tabs on the CPBL, which started its season on April 11 after a postponement, and hopes to be given an opportunity to experience Taiwan once again and draw the massive crowds that he attracted in his 2013 stint.
The aforementioned Hall of Fame vote may seem a little low considering his phenomenal career statistics, including 555 home runs (15th all-time) and a career .585 slugging percentage (eighth all-time). However, as he alludes to in the video at the top of the article, he made some mistakes during his career, most notably when he was suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
At 48 years old, Ramirez certainly isn't at his athletic peak. Still, MLB players like Julio Franco and Jamie Moyer played past age 48. Nine-time All-Star Minnie Minoso returned for a few games in 1976 at age 50, and then again in 1980 at age 54. Satchel Paige, who was forced to begin his MLB career at age 41 due to the existence of the color barrier during his prime, returned for one appearance at age 58! It's not common, but Manny isn't walking on completely uncharted territory here.
His final message to teams?
"I am still confident in my ability to serve as a player-coach and provide positive contributions to any ball club that is willing to have me on their staff/roster."
No matter where he may end up getting an opportunity, baseball fans would love the opportunity to see Manny being Manny on the diamond once again.