It doesn’t take long to realize why E.J. Ramos is not only a fan favorite in Quincy, but also a favorite in the dugout.
Quincy Gems starting pitcher Mitchell Sorenson walked four batters in the first inning Thursday night. As fans inside QU Stadium started to become restless with each passing ball, Ramos made sure his voice could be heard over the disappointed fans.
When the New Yorker is not signing autographs for young fans before, after and sometimes even during the game, he is cheering on him Gems teammates.
Every pitch of every game.
No matter the score.
“I just really care for this game and my teammates,” he said. “It’s about more than just baseball, it’s the relationships you form. You need to make your teammates feel welcomed and that they are doing alright. You have to have positivity in this game. I am a teammate and will do whatever it takes to help them. I am here for my guys.”
Gems co-manager Adam Hightower mentioned Ramos is like an extension of the coaching staff.
“He will pull a pitcher off to the side once in awhile and I have no worries in what he is saying to them, I know it is going to be something useful and positive,” the Gems skipper said.
“He’s just a great guy to have around, he is always locked into the game and he picks up and what guys are trying to do and does a great job of relaying what he sees to others.”
Thursday night's 6-3 loss to the Rex marked the final home game of the season for Ramos and the Gems.
Ramos has been a fixture on the Gems pitching staff for the last three seasons.
He mentioned Thursday night was one of the saddest times in his stay.
“It’s probably the saddest moment of the year,” he mentioned of putting on the Gems home uniform for the final time this season. “It’s sad because you don’t get to come back and play in front of these fans one more time.”
Most players in the Prospect League only stick around for a year or two. But Ramos mentioned playing for the fans inside QU Stadium is one of the biggest reasons why he came back for a third year.
“They are the best in the Prospect League,” he said. “You don’t see this kind of support anywhere else like you see here in Quincy. I talk to a lot of them and they say they want to cry at the end of the season. You can definitely see the fans look forward to watching us play and that is the best part of playing here. That’s why I have been here for three years.”
According to Ramos, everyone in the Gems organization is top notch as well.
“The people who work here are unbelievable,” the Lubbock Christian University senior said. “They look out for you, even if it’s not baseball related, they have your back.”
The latter was evident for Ramos at the beginning of the season. The right-handed pitcher suffered an injury toward the end of this college baseball season which sidelined him for the start of the Prospect League. But the Gems made sure Ramos knew he had a roster spot when he became healthy.
“I went from the top of my career to falling way off my game, but Jimmie Louthan (Gems owner) told me not to worry about it, they would find a spot for me,” Ramos said. “They all here just really care about the players.”
Ramos has battled through injury and appeared in 11 games this summer. He’s pitched 16 innings and recorded 19 punchouts and sports a 1-0 record.
Despite the Gems having the worst record in the league, Ramos mentioned he is proud of his teammates.
“It’s been a bad year, but wouldn’t trade these guys for the world,” he said. “The guys who are here at the end, they all could have very easily went back to California, New York or wherever else they are from and be doing other things, but they chose to stick it out until the end. It says a lot about their character.
“All these guys are very talented, we are not a bad team, we just didn’t play well together this summer. But we still have had a lot of fun.”
At the conclusion of the summer season, Ramos will gear up for his senior season at Lubbock Christian University in Texas. He mentioned if he doesn’t get offered a professional contract for next year, he would entertain coming back to Quincy for a fourth season.
“I just want to play this game for as long as I can,” he noted. “Professional baseball is the goal, but if it’s not in the cards yet, I will definitely want to come back here again.”
It’s evident the Gems and the fans would gladly welcome the easy-to-love Ramos back to QU Stadium with open arms.