This was always gonna be the last year that Amos Ramon played baseball, even before he found out he wouldn't play it out in the city he's come to call home.
That was the decision the 31-year-old infielder made before the season, nine years slugging it out in the minors was enough.
He's seen a lot in that time, all the highs and lows. He's battled injuries, recovered in time to famously help carry the Goldeyes to the 2012 championship. He was superb in the six games of that campaign, remember -- as if any Goldeyes fan would forget the guy who batted .467 with two home runs and nine RBI, with everything on the line.
So 2014 was always gonna be Ramon's curtain call. He just hoped to finish it out in Goldeyes colours.
Instead, when Ramon arrived at Shaw Park on Tuesday for the first time since training camp, he was wearing the away uniform of the Sioux City Explorers.
When he made his first appearance at the plate and Goldeyes game announcer Ron Arnst called his name, the crowd swelled into a warm round of applause. He heard that, loud and clear.
"I'm not going to lie, I got a little choked up," Ramon said, flashing his familiar grin after batting practice Wednesday.
Firing off the game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game was pretty nice, too. "I've always been the guy who wanted to be in those situations," Ramon said. "To do it here, and do it in front of this crowd, was great."
That was the latest high, on Ramon's 2014 roller-coaster ride. He landed in Sioux City last month, after being traded from the Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers. He signed in Lancaster after the Goldeyes released him in May. That was a tough one, as manager Rick Forney moved to fit his roster to American Association rules: teams are only allowed so many highly experienced players, and this year Ramon was the odd one out.
No bones about it, that part was hard. But Ramon had worked so hard in the off-season to get in tip-top shape, to get ready for one last summer of having fun with playing a kids' game. He felt so good in spring training with the Fish, in the end, he decided to play it out as planned.
"I play this game because it's fun, and I love it," he said. "We all play it for fun. I could easily have just quit, but I worked really hard, and I just wanted to keep playing."
Now the roller-coaster has brought Ramon to the funny spot of seeing teammates roll in on the Sioux City bus, while he sleeps in his own bed for the first time in months. It means a chance to spend some quality time with his wife, a Winnipeg psychologist, and a chance to see some friends: he spent Monday's off-day hanging with Goldeyes starter Chris Salamida. The very next night, the two faced off on opposite sides of the diamond. Hey, that's baseball for you.
"It's been nice, and much needed," Ramon said of this series, and he means that both personally and professionally. "I didn't get a chance to come back, when I got released on the road... I've probably been bottling it up for the last two months. Now, coming back here and saying goodbye is good closure for me."