There are players who simply don’t want to quit on the game. Rickey Henderson was one of them and also Julio Franco could not say goodbye to the game. Another one in this little list of players who wants to keep playing is Manny Ramirez. The 12-time MLB All Star has signed a contract with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island-Plus league, an independent league in Japan.
Despite Manny being Manny and his PED-tainted career, Ramirez cannot be denied some love of the game. The 44-year old Ramirez claims to be concerned about Japan’s declining baseball population.Also in Japan, baseball seems to lose ground to soccer, a sport with a
Kochi is one of the founding clubs of Japan’s first independent minor league. Based in western Japan on Shikoku, the smallest of the nation’s four main islands, the four-team league has been in operation since 2005. In the past two years, an all star team of this league played a series of games in the CanAm League (also independent).
In 2013, Ramirez played briefly in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League with the EDA Rhinos, a team that he left halfway the season. The following season, he was with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs and followed that with a stint in the Dominican Winter League.
In a 19-year career, the former Red Sox slugger hit 555 homeruns (which is ranked 15th on the all-time list) and had a .312 batting average. In his nineteen years in the Bigs, Ramirez played for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. He suddenly retired early in the 2011 season as it became clear that he was tested positive. He rather retired than to face a 100-game suspension.
The Kochi Fighting Dogs and Ramirez are still negotiating about the length of his contract and the schedule for his arrival in Japan.