BOSTON -- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia released his autobiography last July called “Born to Play: My Life in the Game” with author Edward J. Delaney. Here are a couple of excerpts from the book in which Pedroia briefly touches on his relationship with former teammate Manny Ramirez:
I’d had my time with the team at the end of 2006, so I felt a little more familiar coming back to spring training. Most of the guys were very welcoming as I came back in. One of the funny stories, though, was involving Manny Ramirez.
I had first met Manny when I was in minor-league camp that first spring training in 2005. I went with one of my roommates to Best Buy and Manny was there by himself. He was buying some CDs. So I went over to him and introduced myself. I said, “Hey, I just got drafted by the Red Sox and I wanted to say hello.”
I had always been a big Manny fan. So we stood there in the Best Buy and I talked to him then, and he was great. I didn’t see him again for the rest of 2005. And I didn’t talk to him that much when I got called up in 2006. I was a new guy, and knew my place, and Manny was just doing his thing.
I came back for camp in 2007, and something hilarious happened. Manny had run into my wife -- we lived down the street from each other in spring training in Cape Coral that year -- at the gas station. My wife is awesome, very friendly and outgoing, and she just went up to him and said, “Hi, Manny. I’m Dustin Pedroia’s wife. I just wanted to introduce myself.”
This was going into 2007 and there was a pretty good chance I was going to be the starting second baseman, so we were getting to know everyone. Kelli told me about meeting Manny, and how nice he was to her, and how she was so excited to be treated the way he treated her.
I got to the ballpark the next day and I went into the outfield and said to him, “Hey, Manny, I heard you met my wife at the gas station in Cape Coral.”
He said, “No. I didn’t meet your wife. I met Pedey’s wife.” I said, “No, Manny, that’s my wife.” He said, “No. No. That’s Pedey’s wife!” I said, “Manny. . . What the [expletive]? I am Pedey! What the hell is wrong with you?” I was arguing with Manny Ramirez over whether I was me. He almost had me believing I wasn’t.
At the start of the season, I didn’t think he even knew who the hell I was. I didn’t know what was going on. So after that it was kind of weird. I told some of the guys and they said, “Dude, listen. He really doesn’t know you, yet. So when he gets to know you he’ll remember your name.”
“Oh, OK. That sounds good.”
And here’s another ...
When we came in that spring [in 2008], I was now a teammate, not just a guy trying to make it into the lineup. I knew the guys, and they knew me. Manny and I continued to build a relationship. I think he saw the way I played and it made it fun for him to see a young kid enjoy baseball so much. Manny’s a big kid himself. He loves to play baseball. Baseball is my life, that’s all I know. I think he admired that and he started to respect me in a different way than just looking at me as just a rookie and a young guy.
His locker was in the back of the clubhouse at City of Palms Park, along with guys like Ortiz, Lugo and Sean Casey. My locker was nearby, so he walked over, with a bat over his shoulder and a gift-wrapped box in his hand, and just handed it to me.
I started taking off the wrapping paper, and I saw the word “Rolex” on the box. Just as I did, Manny smashed his bat into the box, putting this big dent in it.
When he did that, I figured it was just a joke. Manny was always doing crazy things. It was just another Manny goof.
But I opened the box, and it really was a Rolex watch. I suddenly remembered the summer before, when he’d told me if I won Rookie of the Year he’d buy me a watch. Now he was following through on that. And he’d written a nice note that congratulated me.
I thought, “Damn. He smashed a $20,000 watch that he just gave me with his bat. Is this guy crazy?”
Then Manny went wandering off. Why he would take his bat and smash a really expensive Rolex he was giving me, I still have no idea.