Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/11/2021 (207 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IT was the last game on the calendar for the 2021 edition of the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
After the final out, a fan in the stands at Shaw Park yelled out to 38-year-old Amos Ramon — who played 10 games for the Fish this summer despite being seven years removed from the professional game — "Hey Amos, you gonna play next year?"
Without missing a beat, Ramon, smiling, yelled back "Not a chance."
It turns out Ramon will be back after all, although, strictly as a hitting coach. The Goldeyes announced Monday morning that the former slugger has been hired full-time to join manager Rick Forney on staff. Before his brief comeback this summer, Ramon was a standout third baseman and occasional pitcher for the Goldeyes in 2006 and again from 2011-2013. Ramon was initially brought back into the fold this summer to help guide the club’s batters because previous hitting coach, Kash Beauchamp, was unvaccinated and unable to cross the border when the Goldeyes left their base in Jackson, Tenn., to head back up to Winnipeg for the final half of the season. Beauchamp replaced longtime hitting coach Tom Vaeth in 2019, but he never ended up stepping foot in Winnipeg in his year and a half with the franchise owing to the pandemic.
In addition to Beauchamp, several players didn’t make the trip because of their vaccination status. Sprinkle in some injuries and Forney was left with no choice but to ask Ramon to be a player-coach for home games.
"He was like ‘Can you play third?’ And I was like ‘Oh no, my arm doesn’t have it anymore. But I can play second.’ So, it just so happened to work out," Ramon, who registered six hits in 29 plate appearances, told the Free Press on Monday.
"... To be honest with you, it was fun just playing again and being on the field. I think the best part about it was now I have a six year old (named Isla) and I got out of baseball right before we had her, so having her in the crowd was pretty special."
Nothing was said to the south Texas native about last summer being a tryout for the hitting job, but he figured if he meshed well with Forney and the players there would maybe be a chance the team would keep him on.
"Working with professional hitters, it’s about making those guys feel confident heading into the box. That’s the one thing I learned as a player that I just want to feel confident when I go to hit... These guys are professionals, I’m not going to teach them how to hit. For the most part, basically all I’m gonna do is make guys as confident as possible and give them whatever they need... I just really want to do a good job for Rick and the players and go from there," Ramon said.
Ramon knows a thing or two about being confident with the stick. He was the 2012 American Association playoff MVP when he guided the Fish to the league championship with his eye-popping .467 batting average in six games. He’s one of nine position players in Goldeyes’ history to appear in five or more seasons with the club and finished his nine-year professional career with a .285 batting average and .354 on-base percentage in 565 games.
Ramon settling down and marrying wife Duong in Winnipeg has been a huge win for the local baseball community as he hasn’t been shy to put his experiences to good use. Ramon is the head coach of Team Manitoba’s under-17 squads for the Canada Games and Canada Cup, as well as the under-18 varsity club at Home Run Sports Training Centre in Winnipeg. For Ramon, who’s listed at 5-8 and never got a chance to play affiliated ball, coaching an underdog province has been a perfect fit for him.
"To be honest with you, Manitobans and their baseball players kind of get treated the same way as if you were a small player from south Texas. It kind of hit home with me with them and I try as much as I can to get these guys as far in the next level as possible... When a guy signs a scholarship, that’s the icing on the cake for me," said Ramon, who also co-owned a restaurant on Academy Rd., called Fusion Experience at one time.
It’ll be a similar approach on the indies, as everyone there is working to get that call from a big league club. While Ramon never got the call, he’s a perfect example of what the indies can do for a player.
"If it wasn’t for Rick, I never would’ve had the opportunity to play professionally, let alone meet my wife. It’s kind of surreal how it all came together and now it’s coming all the way back around... I’m one of the lucky ones when it comes to that."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.