YOKOHAMA – Alex Ramirez, the only foreign player to get 2,000 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball, achieved one of his long-held ambitions on Monday, when the Yokohama BayStars announced he would be their new manager.
Ramirez, a native of Venezuela, is a two-time Central League MVP. He played for the Yakult Swallows, Yomiuri Giants and Yokohama before finishing his career in 2014 with the Gunma Diamond Pegasus in the independent B.C. League. This past season, Ramirez was hired as an advisor to the Orix Buffaloes, but he asked the team to let him leave at the end of the season.
He will take over for outgoing skipper Kiyoshi Nakahata, who quit to take responsibility for the club’s poor results, although the organization had been committed to him staying on.
Ramirez, whose age is 41 although in recent years he joked that the real figure is a carefully guarded secret, will become the CL’s first foreign manager since Marty Brown managed the Hiroshima Carp from 2006-09.
Speaking about his ambition to manage, Ramirez has expressed his desire to use his long experience in NPB to find alternative ways of doing things that would hopefully be more efficient while still meshing with Japanese baseball sensitivities.
Yokohama’s general manager, Shigeru Takada, was also the general manager of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, during Trey Hillman’s successful term with the Pacific League club. Hillman, and Bobby Valentine of the Chiba Lotte Marines, were successful in part because their clubs accepted the skipper’s input into the way the teams were run.
Brown, who also managed the PL’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for one season, and Terry Collins of the Orix Buffaloes, were each tasked with changing their team’s culture, but their input regarding player development and various procedures was ignored and their clubs made little headway.
Collins is currently managing the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.