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The Sultan of Swing (and Smiles) Emerges
CHARLES P. PIERCE
November 10, 2004
UNWANTED ONLY A YEAR AGO, THE FUN-LOVING AND ENIGMATIC MANNY RAMIREZ HAS BECOME BELOVED BY BEANTOWN
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November 10, 2004

The Sultan Of Swing (and Smiles) Emerges

UNWANTED ONLY A YEAR AGO, THE FUN-LOVING AND ENIGMATIC MANNY RAMIREZ HAS BECOME BELOVED BY BEANTOWN

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Now, though, he's opened up his world because it was time for him to let people into that place of secret knowledge. It's not because baseball wanted him to do it. It's because something inside of him decided to emerge.

It's there when he comes bounding out of the dugout, shirt open and flapping in the breeze, when David McCarty hits a walk-off home run against Seattle on Ramirez's 32nd birthday, and it's there, enveloping everyone around him, when he later drops a half headlock on a reporter who'd been following him around for a week.

"I told you, man, look at me. I'm old," he says. "I can't go deep anymore."

He caught Joe Castiglione by surprise. The veteran Red Sox broadcaster was sitting around in the dugout before a game in Cleveland, and Ramirez came up to him, eyes deep and intent. He grabbed Castiglione by the biceps.

"You ready, man?" he asked.

Castiglione was nonplussed. Manny seemed to be looking straight through to the back of his head.

"You ready?" Ramirez asked again, a grin beginning to break through.

"Oh, yeah, you ready," Ramirez said. "I can see it there in your eyes." And off he went, laughing so hard he shook.

Last year he probably wouldn't have talked about it.

On May 10 of this year Manny Ramirez took a game off in order to go to Miami and become a citizen of the United States. He'd been studying for a year, at the insistence of his mother. He'd learned the Bill of Rights and all about the flag. He'd passed the test with, well, flying colors. And now he was talking about it the way he wouldn't have talked about it before.

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