The last official act for closer AJ Ramos as a Miami Marlin had nothing to do with him pitching.
Instead, he was catching...and...styling and profiling.
Ramos is a pro wrestling fan. His nickname, The Mexicutioner, is one befitting of a wrestler on a lucha libre show.
During Wrestling Night at Marlins Park last month, Ramos gladly accepted the task of catching the first pitch thrown by the legendary Nature Boy Ric Flair.
Ramos just beaming as he met Flair. They posed for some photos.
After warming up earlier with Marlins staffer Orlando Prescott, Flair walked to the mound as his customary wrestling entrance music engulfed Marlins Park.
It’s the theme music for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a 1968 Stanley Kubrick film. The instrumental is actually titled “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss.
The Marlins provided Flair with a special-made Marlins jersey, numbering 16 on the back. Makes sense. He is a 16-time world champion.
As the announcer introduced Flair, he walked to the mound. hoping he would reach Ramos. The Marlins bat boys, coaches and players and those with the visiting Reds stood atop their respective dugouts, watching with delight.
Flair teased tossing the ball from closer range, but this is The Man. He is what’s causing all this. Limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheelin’, dealin’, son of a gun. To be the man, you got to beat the man. No way was he pitching from close range.
Flair walked that walk to the mound. He smiled when he realized how far to home plate from there.
Billy the Marlin, (spoiler alert) portraying the masked luchador El Pescado, bowed to Flair, and Ramos then squatted in catcher’s position.
Flair, a right-hander, let it go. The ball bounced twice, and Ramos scooped it. As Ramos was approaching Flair, the Nature Boy wanted another try. Ramos under-handed the ball to the field photographer who lobbed it to Flair who tried again. The second pitch bounced, too. All in good fun.
As Ramos and Flair walked toward each other. They stopped and then strutted Flair style, until both in unison yelled, ‘Woooo,’ which is something that has stood the test of time, like Flair. Ramos handed Flair the ball and posed for a photo near the mound. Then El Pescado joined them for another photo. Ramos and Flair shook hands, and Flair walked toward the visiting dugout.
A few hours later, Ramos was traded to the New York Mets. What a way to go out.
NOTE: The Marlins are playing the Mets at Citi Field this weekend in Flushing Meadows. Very odd seeing Ramos wearing the blue and orange.
Fans of all ages wanted to meet Flair at Marlins Park. Heck, Reds star Joey Votto made sure to get a quick photo with Flair, before he left the field. Fans “Wooo’d,’ and Flair waved to them and the Reds.
Flair met several Marlins in the clubhouse before the game. He also spoke to Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, a former Yankees’ great. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to ‘Woooo,’ and if you are a wrestling fan, you know what ‘Woooo’ represents. That is Flair’s trademark, and it’s fun to do. Very few have reached his status, and even fewer can be remembered by one word or in this case, one ‘Woooo.’
Flair, who was recently hospitalized and recovering, is one of the all-time greats in his profession, captivating fans of all ages as well athletes from all sports.
Flair not only walked the walk, but he most definitely talked the talk.
Just how good on the microphone.
ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Nature Boy” is the documentary of Ric Flair. He is the first pro wrestler featured by ESPN in its highly acclaimed 30 for 30 series. Director by Rory Karpf (“I Hate Christian Laettner,” “The Book of Manning”) it will take an inside look at Flair’s story, including his triumphs, his tragedies and his pivotal role in turning pro wrestling into mainstream sports entertainment. The broadcast date is Nov. 7.
Flair also collaborated with his daughter Charlotte, who is currently a top star in WWE, and writer Brian Shields on a book titled “Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte,” which is set for a September release date.
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