By Doug Miller / MLB.comWhen you think of Manny Ramirez, you might think of Los Angeles, Boston or Cleveland, and that makes a lot of sense. The legendary right-handed slugger has played in all three places and put up Major League numbers that make him a Hall of Fame shoo-in.
But did you know that the real Manny Ramirez is all about New York City?
Yup, before Ramirez was "Manny Being Manny" in Boston and now in Chavez Ravine, he was Manny being a Dominican-born baseball phenom for George Washington High School in Manhattan.
Ramirez and his three sisters moved from the Dominican Republic to New York in 1985 to live with their mother and father, who had been there for two years. The family lived in Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Within days, Manny and his father had found the baseball field at 170th Street and Amsterdam Ave., and the young Ramirez had a place to go hit and become great.
Soon enough, Ramirez had a lot of friends who admired his prowess, and he displayed his power and rare hitting eye in games every weekend, from Manhattan's Central Park, to Brooklyn's Prospect Park, to the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park.
"High school was complicated for me," Ramirez said on his Web site. "I passed my classes, but I never felt relaxed in class. I had just come to New York, to a different culture, and I was trying to fit in. Also, I was trying to learn to speak a different language. I always like to do things correctly, and it was difficult learning correct English, so I lost interest. This got me even deeper into baseball. When I played, I felt good about myself, because I could do my best. I could work hard and help our team to win."
That's exactly what George Washington High School did, winning three straight Manhattan division championships (1988-1990) with help from Ramirez, whose final high school numbers included a .630 batting average, a 1.455 slugging percentage, a home run every 5.7 at bats, plus All-City honors in 1989, '90 and '91 and High School Player of the Year honors for New York City Public Schools.
But of all the great things Ramirez has accomplished in his long, storied Major League career, he's never suited up in the uniform of one of the teams based in New York, his real hometown. One has to wonder if the Yankees will break the bank for him this offseason or if the Queens-based Mets will swoop in and sign another native son.
Ramirez didn't mince words when asked where he might be headed in 2009.
"This is a business," he said just a day before the start of the National League Championship Series. "You're here now, but you don't know where you're going to be tomorrow. That's the way you have to look at it."
Doug Miller is a senior writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.