MIAMI -- Rafael "Felo" Ramirez, the Hall of Fame Spanish-language radio voice of the Miami Marlins and a pioneer in helping grow baseball throughout Latin America for six decades, has died at age 94, the organization announced Tuesday morning.The Cuban-born broadcasting legend had been with the Marlins since their inaugural
MIAMI -- Rafael "Felo" Ramirez, the Hall of Fame Spanish-language radio voice of the Miami Marlins and a pioneer in helping grow baseball throughout Latin America for six decades, has died at age 94, the organization announced Tuesday morning.
The Cuban-born broadcasting legend had been with the Marlins since their inaugural 1993 season, and he remained active covering the club at home and on the road until he was injured from a fall in Philadelphia in late April.
"The entire Marlins organization is deeply saddened by the loss of a great friend, Hall of Fame broadcaster and community icon, Felo Ramirez," the club said in a statement. "Since our inaugural season, he brought home practically every magical moment in franchise history to generations of fans. A true broadcast legend, Felo lent his voice to more than 30 World Series and All-Star Games, and his extensive contributions to our game will never be forgotten."
Ramirez suffered a head injury and lacerations on April 26 coming off the team bus, and he remained in a Delaware-based hospital for months before being cleared to return to Miami.
Until the fall, Ramirez worked with Yiky Quintana, broadcasting Marlins' games for Radio Mambi -- WAQI 710 AM in Miami.
"I've known Felo for over 50 years," said Hall of Famer Tony Perez, a longtime Marlins special assistant. "I listened to him in Cuba. I'd listen to the games over there, and I'd listen to him in boxing. He started out in boxing over there, and then baseball."
A fun-loving baseball lifer, Ramirez has a street named after him outside Marlins Park. Northwest 6th Street also is known as Felo Ramirez Drive.
Ramirez was bestowed the highest honor in his profession -- the Ford C. Frick Award, which includes recognition in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony was on Aug. 5, 2001, and Ramirez was the first Hispanic broadcaster to be inducted.
The impact Ramirez's words had on baseball fans in Latin America drew the praise of former MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. In 1980, Kuhn recognized Ramirez for promoting baseball internationally.
Energetic and enthusiastic with his calls, Ramirez covered both of the Marlins' World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. Other highlights in his tenure were being in the booth for the Marlins' first five no-hitters. He missed the sixth, turned in by Edinson Volquez against the D-backs on June 3, due to his injury.
At Marlins Park on May 28, the Marlins honored Ramirez with a bobblehead day.
Ramirez's legend was established long before he became one of the most significant hires in Marlins' history.
For more than 35 years, Ramirez was the most prominent baseball radio voice in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
It was no secret Ramirez's favorite all-time MLB player was Roberto Clemente, and he never hesitated to remind the present generation of the late Hall of Famer's talents, particularly his throwing abilities. Ramirez covered Clemente's 3,000th hit, as well as Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
Working year-round, Ramirez also was the radio voice for more than 40 Caribbean Series.
Along with baseball, Ramirez worked a number of Muhammad Ali fights.
Through the years, Ramirez frequently would joke around with many of the Latin American-born Marlins, laughing as he shadow boxed with them.
But it was baseball that was Ramirez's true passion. He often said the sport was his life.
"He was that kind of person who loved people and wanted to be around people," Perez said. "He wanted people to listen to him. He didn't speak good English, but to people who speak Spanish, he's a hero."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.