CLEVELAND – The Indians endured a long night of travel after their 4-2 loss to the Marlins in Miami, landing in Cleveland at 4 a.m. on Thursday. After the players each headed back to their homes ready to take full advantage of the team’s off day, Jose Ramirez knew he’d
CLEVELAND – The Indians endured a long night of travel after their 4-2 loss to the Marlins in Miami, landing in Cleveland at 4 a.m. on Thursday. After the players each headed back to their homes ready to take full advantage of the team’s off day, Jose Ramirez knew he’d have to be awake in just a few hours.
The morning alarm can be one of the most dreadful sounds, but the Indians third baseman didn’t mind getting up after a short night of rest because he knew he was heading back to Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy in Cleveland, a school designed to help kids of all grade levels who have moved from other countries. Ramirez, all too familiar with that transition, visited some of their students last year and wanted to come back again in 2019 to talk more about his life and learning English while pursuing his baseball career.
“I can’t deny, I could’ve used a little extra sleeping time,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “But I did it last year, and the feeling I got out of it is really valuable to me.”
Twenty kids from the academy’s Spanish-speaking senior class gathered in the school’s second-floor library, placing all the chairs in the room in a circle and leaving one open spot for their special guest. After about six or seven minutes, the door to the library creaked open as each of the student’s heads peaked over the bookshelf to get their first glimpse of the All-Star baseball player.
Ramirez, a Dominican Republic native, took his seat and went through brief introductions. A player who is often limited in communication in the Indians' clubhouse due to the language barrier between he and some of his teammates, coaches and media members, was completely in his comfort zone, sitting in front of a group of all Spanish-speaking students.
“For me, it’s an honor,” Ramirez said. “And also the fact that they’re Latin kids…I didn’t have that opportunity and that type of mentorship growing up, so I think it’s something that I really enjoy and am honored to help in any way.”
The students took turns asking Ramirez questions for about 45 minutes before they gathered for a group photo. Ramirez then went over to a table full of Indians notebooks and signed the first page of each booklet before handing them out to the kids. He stopped to pose for individual photos with each person in the room, including the teacher, so they all could get pictures with the Cleveland Indian on their phones.
“Being able to help them and be that role model or mentor from somebody who’s playing in the Major Leagues, I think it has a lot of value,” Ramirez said. “So that’s why I wanted to help them in any way I can.”
And while his day was geared toward helping the students, they, too, realized the long night that he went through just hours prior to the event and decided to also lend a helping hand. Minutes after Ramirez told MLB.com that he could’ve used a few more hours of sleep, he walked over to the students to give his final goodbyes as they presented him with a large cup of coffee.
Ramirez picked up the container of sugar they brought him and poured in three big clumps as the class laughed harder with each shake. After feeling a little jetlagged on his way in, Ramirez, with coffee-filled thermos in hand, left yelling, “Muchas gracias,” rejuvenated after an hour with his new friends.
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.