Revisiting Manny Ramirez’s Memorable Walk-Off
It’s been almost 16 years since Red Sox fans were mesmerized by the sight of Manny Ramirez walking it off at Fenway in Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS. The iconic image of Ramirez with his arms raised remains etched into history and still stirs up a wave of nostalgia among Boston baseball fans.
It was one of the most memorable moments in Red Sox history and deserves a look back in Red Sox Retrospective.
After winning game one of the series 4-0 on a Josh Beckett complete-game masterpiece, Boston was looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead heading to southern California. A win that would put them on the brink of advancing to their first ALCS since that memorable 2004 series against the Yankees.
To start game 2, the Red Sox would jump out to an early 2-0 lead on an RBI single by right fielder J.D. Drew. But that lead would quickly be erased in the top of the second when Dice-K coughed up three runs to give the Angels a 3-2 advantage. But luckily for the Red Sox, in the bottom of the fifth, Mike Lowell would knot the score with a sac fly to plate rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia, making it 3-3.
That’s where the score stood going into the bottom of the ninth when Angels reliever Justin Speier allowed a runner to advance to second base with only one out. Knowing the importance of the game, manager Mike Scioscia was forced to bring in his All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez to try to push this one into 10th.
With one out, K-Rod would do his job by striking out Kevin Youkilis. Next, they strategically decided to intentionally walk lefty DH David Ortiz to set up a righty-on-righty matchup between K-Rod and Ramirez.
The Manny Vs. K-Rod Matchup
In 2007, Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) was one of the game’s best closers, having finished fourth in the Cy Young award race the previous year while leading the league in saves in both 2005 and 2006. He also held an edge over Ramirez, who had gone a woeful 1-for-8 against him with four strikeouts up to that point in his career.
But, surprisingly, that didn’t faze Ramirez when he stepped up to bat against the hard-throwing righty with the game on the line. David Ortiz later revealed in an interview that after his last failed at-bat against K-Rod, Manny confidently proclaimed that it would be the last time that K-Rod ever got him out.
“He’s working me with the same stuff over and over and over,” Ortiz recalls Ramirez telling him. “He’s starting me with the get me over, and then he wants to finish me hard. I’m going to pick one or the other. That’s my game plan the next time I face him.”
And that moment would eventually come.
So with two runners on and two out, Manny stepped up to face Rodriguez with a chance to give the Red Sox a commanding 2-0 series lead. The at-bat would start with Ramirez taking a ball, but on the second pitch, Rodriguez tried to sneak a fastball on the inner part of the plate. The fastball inside was something Manny stored in the back of his mind from their previous matchups, as the slugger was guessing fastball.
The result was a majestic 400-foot three-run home run that sent Fenway Park into pandemonium. Leading to the iconic photo of Ramirez standing at home plate with his arms raised, looking at his Boston teammates. The symmetry between Ramirez, his teammates, and the crowd in the background makes the photo so memorable.
To this day, it’s one of my all-time favorite baseball photos and something I have hanging up in my office.
How Manny Is Remembered
All things considered, Manny Ramirez is an iconic figure among Red Sox fans and is fondly remembered for his goofy and unpredictable antics (Manny being Manny) as much as his successes on the field. Doing things such as taking a bathroom break in the Green Monster during a mound visit, losing a 15 thousand-dollar earring during a rehab game in Triple-A, and hilariously cutting off a throw by Johnny Damon, just to name a few.
But on the flip side, he was definitely known to anger both management and fans at times, such as missing games due to fake injuries, fighting with teammates and club personnel, and being downright unreliable at points. Still, everyone put up with his shenanigans because he gave the team the best chance to win, ultimately contributing to two championships and providing so many memorable moments.
At the end of the day, Manny is one of the best free-agent signings in Boston sports history and someone we all loved watching when he stepped up to the plate. In 2022 he was even inducted into the Red Sox Hall-of-Fame and received thunderous applause from the Fenway crowd, showing how much his contributions meant to the fanbase.
Watching Manny’s walk-off home run against K-Rod was an incredible experience for me as a young Red Sox fan. From its implications on that series to the atmosphere which filled Fenway Park that night, it was a moment in Boston sports history I’ll never forget.
And as the years go by and Red Sox fans continue to remember this iconic moment, they only have one thing left to say: Thank you, Manny.