Sara Rimer, a former reporter for the New York Times, returned to the paper's pages yesterday with a lovely, nostalgic piece about following the George Washington High School baseball team during its 1991 season. Manny Ramirez, then an 18-year-old on his way to signing with the Cleveland Indians, quickly became her focus. There's a series of captivating photos from his high school days, and anecdotes like teenage Manny's Bo Jackson moment :
The second time he came up, he tapped home plate with his bat, the way you would see him do it later in the majors. He was ready, as perfectly balanced as a ballerina, as Mandl put it.
Then he called a timeout, taking his right hand off the bat. But the umpire did not give it to him.
Everyone who was there swears Manny did not have time to get his right hand back on the bat, that he swung with one hand. I can't really say that I saw it. Maybe I was too busy taking notes.
The ball went over the left-field fence and all the way to the old handball courts on the street below. It had to be more than 400 feet. His teammates and the fans were screaming: "Oh my God! Oh my God!"
Mandl, coaching third base, tried to maintain his cool. He may have muttered an astonished expletive under his breath as he waved home Rafael Gonzalez, who had been on first, followed by Manny.
In those days Manny did not indulge in major league theatrics. He simply ducked his head and ran home, into the arms of his teammates.
Read Rimer's story here.