J-Ram proud of youth field that bears his name

August 22nd, 2023

CLEVELAND -- A piece of paper sat on the seat at José Ramírez’s locker last week. He walked into the clubhouse and glanced down at the colorful printout. For a second, his eyes squinted, curious what was in front of him. Quickly, he burst out into an enormous grin and yelled, “Wow!”

He called for members of the community relations team, raising his thumb and beaming with pride. He couldn’t talk enough about the field he saw on that piece of paper. He hadn’t even seen it in person yet, but he already knew it was special.

That ballpark was José Ramírez Field at Clark Field, the newest donation from Ramírez and Cleveland Guardians Charities for local youth to enjoy. The all-turf field will serve as the home park for the Lincoln-West High School baseball team and the Cleveland Guardians Nike RBI baseball teams.

“I didn’t have a chance to see the progress during the year. Seeing it today was really surprising,” Ramírez said through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “I am really happy. This is a beautiful field. It’s very nice, very comfortable, so I’m really excited for the final product.”

One year ago to the day, the Guardians and Ramírez announced the groundbreaking of this special project. Only 365 days later, the All-Star third baseman was able to walk around the turf on Tuesday, seeing his “JR” initials just behind the pitcher’s mound, the “Guardians” logo spread across the outfield and his name on the scoreboard.

“I think he knows that there’s a lot of kids in need of places to play,” said Guardians assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez. “Every time he’s got a chance to do something special to get kids involved in sports, he wants to be part of it.”

Ramírez signed his seven-year, $124 million contract extension last April. He made it clear to everyone in baseball that he was determined to stay in Cleveland, even if he could’ve made more money in a bigger market. But no matter how impressive he’s been on the field, he knew that he wanted Northeast Ohio to be his home for the rest of his career.

Only moments after signing that deal, he wanted to figure out how he could make a lasting impact off the field. He consistently expressed how much he wanted to impact local youth softball and baseball players. The Guardians had opened two fields in the past with the help of some alumni, including CC Sabathia Field at Luke Easter Park and Talty Field at the Jim Thome All-Star Complex. Maybe it was time to dedicate a field to a current player.

When Ramírez heard the idea, he knew he wanted to invest.

“José has been making the statement over and over again to his commitment to his community obviously with his staying [in Cleveland],” Guardians owner and CEO Paul Dolan said. “Then, backing it up with the support he’s giving to this community through his investment in this field is extraordinary.”

Over the past year, José Ramírez Field was built in the largest populated Latino community in Ohio.

“This felt like the natural fit,” Ramírez said. “I’ve been on a baseball field since I was 7 years old, and most of my life has been on a baseball field. So, what’s the best way to give back to a community than something that represents so much of my life?”

This field is unlike anything this community has seen in the past. This area has been plagued with rainouts over the last handful of years because of unplayable field conditions. So, José Ramírez Field was built with all turf to hopefully alleviate these issues.

“I know the importance of having the place to play the game and to go hand-in-hand with a good education,” Ramírez said. “I think that’s the other purpose of keeping a lot of kids off the streets and away from bad habits and more of a healthier lifestyle. So, when I thought about it, it felt like a baseball field was a no-brainer.”

Ramírez was the center of attention on Tuesday, as he sat alongside his family just in front of the pitcher’s mound for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at his new field. Dolan, Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff sat on either side of him. In the audience sat workers who helped create the field, staff from Lincoln-West High School, players from the high school baseball team and Ramírez’s coaches and teammates.

Josh Naylor, Xzavion Curry, Ramón Laureano, Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, Steven Kwan, Rodriguez and JT Maguire all showed up to support Ramírez’s generous donation.

“It’s José Ramírez, and every time it’s something about José, I have to be there,” Rodriguez said. “Besides his coach, I’m his fan and I know what he does on the field, but what he does off the field is important. That shows you the kind of [person] that he is.”