Allan Ramirez was an unsung hero for the 1983 World Series champion Baltimore Orioles. Over a span of more than three months that summer, injuries limited a pair of Baltimore pitchers with a total of four career Cy Young Awards (Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan) to a single victory between them. Ramirez, a 26-year-old rookie right-hander, stepped into the breach and won his first three decisions. Overall, he went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts). But after tearing his rotator cuff the following spring, he never returned to the majors.
Daniel Allan Ramirez was born on May 1, 1957, in Victoria, Texas, about 125 miles south of Austin in the southeastern part of the Lone Star State. He was the first of three children from the marriage of Daniel Ramirez Jr. and Mary Carrales, followed by his sisters, Blanche and Diana. For three decades, Allan’s father was a draftsman at Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville. His mother worked for the Internal Revenue Service and the Soil Conservation Group.1
“My parents said I started playing baseball when I started walking,” Ramirez recalled. “They said that I would drag a bat everywhere I walked.” Whereas his grandfather had once turned down an opportunity to play professionally in Houston, Ramirez said, “My dad really didn’t play too much baseball, but he’s the one that would always play catch with me while I was growing up. If it hadn’t been because of my father, I know I wouldn’t be as good. He never said he didn’t have time for me when I wanted to throw a baseball.”2
When Ramirez joined his first organized team at age seven, the self-described “husky child” was initially assigned the catcher’s position. His father was the assistant coach. When they came home after the first practice, though, Ramirez explained, “My mom immediately told my dad that her son was not going to play catcher… I ended up playing third and pitcher. So, I guess you can say, if it hadn’t been for my mom, I might have never been a pitcher.”
At Victoria High School, Ramirez boasted an outstanding fastball that overpowered hitters. Three times, he earned. All-District honors.3 He compiled a 37-15 overall record for the Stingarees and was named Class 4A All-State as a 1975 senior.4 In the amateur draft that June, the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the 23rd round. “I had no intention of signing a professional contract out of high school,” Ramirez said. “I wanted to go to college, get a degree, and then play professional ball. I always figured, if I was going to make the majors, it would have happened no matter what. I could wait a few years.”
When Ramirez’s mother sent his statistics to colleges across the country, one response came from the University of Texas. In 1975, the Longhorns capped a run of 12 College World Series appearances in 15 years with a national championship. “I had always wanted to come to Texas,” Ramirez said. “I even had a Texas sticker on my car.” But he was put off by the letter from Longhorns coach Cliff Gustafson, saying the school’s scouts would recruit him if his skills warranted it. “It really teed me off. It gave me the notion of ‘Don’t call us. We’ll call you,” Ramirez explained.5
Ramirez wound up choosing one of the Longhorns’ conference rivals, Rice University, located in Houston. He acknowledged that the chance to reunite with two former high-school teammates – Mike Macha and Randy Lamprecht – weighed into his decision along with Gustafson’s letter. However, Ramirez also said, “My dad came up with the best reason. He said, ‘Wouldn’t it be something to pitch and beat the best teams in the Southwest Conference [SWC] while playing for a mediocre team?’”
In retrospect, Ramirez conceded that the Owls were “kind of below mediocre.” Rice finished with a losing record in all four of his seasons, posting a .398 overall winning percentage (.298 in SWC play).6 Personally, though, he proved that he could compete with anybody. In his first SWC start on February 28, 1976, Ramirez no-hit Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The following week, he earned victories in both ends of a doubleheader against Texas Christian University. “His fast ball is major league right now and his curve ball is almost unfair. It just drops off the table,” raved Owls coach Doug Osburn. “He’s really captured this campus. We’ve never had anything like this at Rice before… I get calls at my office all the time with students wanting to know when he’s going to pitch next.”7
Ramirez’s five shutouts and 1.90 ERA as a freshman were school records.8 His 134 strikeouts shattered the single-season SWC mark of 86 set by Bobby Layne (who became better known as an NFL quarterback) and ranked second in the nation overall.9 But his signature college performance came during his sophomore season.
On March 27, 1977, the Owls visited Disch-Falk Field to face the Texas Longhorns, who were riding the longest winning streak in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) history – 34 consecutive games. “We looked at it as if it were a playoff game,” Ramirez recalled. Through nine innings, he dueled right-hander Tony Brizzolara to a 1-1 deadlock. When the game moved into extra innings, Brizzolara yielded to the bullpen, but Ramirez put up zeroes in the 10th, 11th and 12th.10 Each club scored twice in the 13th, but Ramirez completed the frame with his 232nd and final pitch despite a weary arm that he admitted later “was like a rag.”11 He earned the win after Rice scored the decisive run in the top of the 14th. Down to their last chance with the potential tying runner on third base with one out, the Longhorns popped up a suicide squeeze attempt, resulting in a game-ending double play.12
“[Ramirez] was just remarkable,” said Texas’s Coach Gustafson. “You have to give him credit because he had the stamina, the courage and just whatever it takes when you are working that hard.”13
By the end of Ramirez’s junior season, he had led the SWC in strikeouts for three straight years.14 The Texas Rangers drafted him in the 10th round, but he again declined to turn professional. “I had one more year of college, and I was gonna finish that first,” he explained.
It was an eventful senior year for Ramirez. He married his high school sweetheart, Hilda Fernandez, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education.15 On the field, he was named All-SWC and completed his college career as the conference’s all-time strikeout king (418 in 342 innings), and atop the Owls leaderboard for victories (27) and complete games (39 in 48 starts).16 While improved command of the unorthodox curveball he had learned from an older cousin spurred Ramirez’s initial success, his repertoire evolved by the time he left Rice. “I basically threw my curveball with my wrist facing upwards, and my fingers under the baseball when I released the ball. It got harder and harder to continue to throw it that way,” he explained. “By the end of my college career, I had lost my curveball and so I went to the slider, which proved to be my best pitch during my professional career.”
His pitching resumé also included summer ball stints with the Peninsula Oilers (Alaska Baseball League) and the El Dorado (Kansas) Coors (Jayhawk League).17 The Baltimore Orioles selected Ramirez in the fifth round of the 1979 June amateur draft. He signed through scout Ray Crone on June 20.18
Ramirez debuted in the Class A Florida State League (FSL), posting a 2.61 ERA in 14 starts in 1979. However, his record was just 3-9 for a poor Miami Orioles club that averaged 3.4 runs per contest. Next, Baltimore sent him to Barranquilla, Colombia, for winter ball, which he described as “definitely an experience.” Although Ramirez’s great-grandfather was from Mexico, he said, “My Spanish is very limited. They would try to interview me in Spanish and let’s just say the interviews would not go very well. They had trouble saying my name Allan. They called me Alice, Len and other names I can’t remember.” Nevertheless, he added, “Baseball was great! Good competition.”
In 1980, Ramirez advanced to the Double A Southern League and helped the Charlotte (North Carolina) O’s win the championship. In 196 innings, he fanned 160 batters and permitted just 151 hits. His 16-8 (2.98 ERA) record included nine straight wins and a one-hitter.19 Ramirez’s victory and strikeout totals ranked second in the circuit and led all Baltimore minor-leaguers. “Not many guys hit him very hard because he has that sneaky fastball, and he didn’t have control problems either,” observed Cal Ripken Jr., Charlotte’s third baseman that season. “Everybody was looking for him to do well.”20
When Ramirez was sent to the Puerto Rican Winter League that offseason, he and his wife shared an apartment with Ripken. “I can’t remember if it were Mr. or Mrs. Ripken that called the apartment after being there a couple of days, and asking Hilda and I to look out after Cal. We did our best!” he said with a laugh. “I remember playing board and card games with him. Not only was he competitive on the field, but he had to win when we played the games in the apartment as well. I always thought that was funny.”
Ramirez and Ripken played for the Criollos de Caguas, managed by Baltimore pitching coach Ray Miller. “I wanted to show him what I could do,” Ramirez said. “Pitching in that league against major-league hitters gave me a giant boost of confidence. I knew I could pitch in the big leagues after being successful there.” But Ramirez’s campaign was cut short by tendinitis. “When I started to have some tightness in my elbow, [Miller] really took care of me.”
The Orioles sent Ramirez back to the FSL to begin 1981, figuring Miami’s warm weather would benefit his elbow. He was promoted to the Rochester (New York) Red Wings of the Triple-A International League (IL) in early May but made just two appearances before he landed on the disabled list for more than six weeks. Following two outings after he was activated, Ramirez went to the Class A Carolina League for five starts with the Hagerstown (Maryland) Suns before he returned to Rochester to finish the season.21 Overall, he went 3-5 (4.86) between three levels in ’81, working only 76 innings. “I never worried,” Ramirez insisted the following spring. “I knew how I could pitch. It’s going to get you down some if you’re human, but you just say to yourself you’ll never have another year like that.”22
With a strong spring training, Ramirez nearly cracked the 1982 Orioles’ Opening Day roster. “He’s been very impressive and looks like he could do the job Dennis Martínez did during his rookie year,” remarked Baltimore manager Earl Weaver.23
Miller compared Ramirez – who was about to turn 25 – to a right-hander who had won 20 games as a 25-year-old. “He reminds me of Wayne Garland at the same age,” Miller said. “Except he throws better. He’s got that big-time major-league potential. A good slider, a live fastball, a good change.”24 As it happened, Ramirez was sent to Rochester because the Orioles opted to begin the season with an eight-man pitching staff.25
Through June 3 in ’82, Ramirez was 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA for the Red Wings, highlighted by a one-hit victory over Columbus. He lost seven of nine decisions after that, however, and was sidelined for two weeks in August with strained muscles in his lower back.26 By season’s end, Ramirez’s ERA had swelled to 4.86, and he walked an IL-worst 117 batters in just 124 innings.
In early 1983, Ramirez decided, “If I didn’t have a halfway decent season at Rochester, I’d consider something else for a living. The number one thing about pitching is confidence, and I didn’t have it in the spring.”27 Even if he pitched well, the Orioles’ rotation boasted two former Cy Young Award winners (Palmer and Flanagan), another former 20-game winner (Scott McGregor), and Martínez, who had tied for the major-league lead in victories in 1981. Like Rochester’s other starting pitchers, Ramirez understood, “We knew more or less that we wouldn’t get a shot until someone got injured. We never wished that on anyone, but we knew that’s what it was going to take.”
In early May, Palmer landed on the disabled list with stiffness and soreness in his back and neck, but Baltimore summoned the Red Wings’ Mike Boddicker. Two weeks later, Flanagan suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for almost three months. The first-place Orioles needed a fifth starter on June 8, 1983, so Ramirez was called up to face the Milwaukee Brewers at Memorial Stadium. “He’s the kind of guy who always throws a lot of pitches in a game, but he has a strong arm,” is how Baltimore general manager Hank Peters described the 5-foot-10, 190-pound rookie. At the time, Ramirez’s record for Rochester was 3-3 with a 3.78 ERA, and he was leading the club in strikeouts and complete games.28
Milwaukee’s Paul Molitor singled to lead off the game. After Rick Manning lined out, Ramirez walked Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper to load the bases, and Ted Simmons pulled a two-run single. “My adrenaline was so high, and I was throwing the ball extra hard and not knowing where it was going got me into big trouble,” Ramirez recalled in 2022. “We had someone warming up in the bullpen for us, and all I kept thinking was, ‘Geez Allan, your first big-league start, and you’re not even gonna get out of the first inning!’” Ramirez didn’t allow any more runs over seven innings of five-hit work, but Baltimore trailed, 2-0, until Ken Singleton smacked a tying two-run homer off future Hall of Famer Don Sutton in the bottom of the seventh. Ramirez received a no-decision, but Ripken and John Lowenstein went deep in the eighth to help the Orioles prevail, 7-3.
On June 13, Ramirez and Sutton matched up again in a nationally televised Monday Night Baseball contest at County Stadium in Milwaukee. In the top of the third, Ripken connected for a three-run homer. The Brewers had runners at second and third when Simmons batted with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Ramirez struck him out on three pitches.29 After five innings, Ramirez handed a 3-1 lead to the Baltimore bullpen. He earned his first major-league win with relief help from Sammy Stewart and Tippy Martinez.
The following day, though, the Orioles activated Palmer from the DL and sent Ramirez back to Rochester. “At least now I know I can get big league hitters out with my fastball no matter where I throw it,” Ramirez said. “This made me realize I can make it.”30
Less than four weeks later, Palmer went back on the injured list and Baltimore recalled Ramirez. The Orioles had fallen three games behind the surprising Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East. On July 12, Ramirez beat the Oakland A’s, 3-1, in impressive fashion – carrying a shutout into the ninth inning before allowing Rickey Henderson’s leadoff homer. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell wrote that Ramirez’s “repertoire resembles that of Cincinnati’s Mario Soto – an unpredictable fast ball, straight changeup and a wrinkle of a slider.”31
On a “sweltering Sunday afternoon” featuring “97-degree heat and miserable humidity,” Ramirez made his next start with 41,684 in attendance in Baltimore.32 He threw 119 pitches and went the distance on a four-hitter to defeat the California Angels, 11-1, improving his major-league record to 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA.33 “I don’t know why it is,” he said. “I guess it’s because the guys up here make the plays and the conditions are better.”34
In addition to Palmer and Flanagan, the Orioles were without injured closer Tippy Martinez, and starter Dennis Martínez was enduring the worst season of his career. Yet, on the eve of a critical West Coast trip, Ramirez’s victory had pulled Baltimore within two games of the division lead. “It’s a miracle where we are,” remarked Peters. “Without Boddicker and Ramirez, we’d be down with [seventh-place] Cleveland and [sixth-place] Boston. They’ve saved us. They’ve made the difference… I’ve always liked both their arms, but you never know how anybody’s going to do when they’re put to the test. Sometimes people rise to the occasion.”35
Ramirez was tagged with his first big-league loss in Oakland, but his victory over the Angels in Anaheim lifted the Orioles into first place just before the team returned to Baltimore. He dropped decisions in Cleveland and Chicago around a relief appearance but came back to pitch well in Texas on August 16. With his parents in the stands after making the six-hour drive from Victoria to Arlington, Ramirez held the Rangers to one run over six innings of four-hit work. His record dropped to 4-4, however, as the Orioles were shut out, 2-0, on a one-hitter by Texas’s John Butcher.
With Palmer and Flanagan back on Baltimore’s active roster, Ramirez moved to the bullpen, but he didn’t see any action for more than two weeks. Then, with the deadline to set postseason rosters looming, he was sent back to Rochester on August 31 to make room for a last-minute trade acquisition, outfielder Tito Landrum. “We just don’t have a need for 10 pitchers if we’re fortunate enough to get into the playoffs,” explained Orioles manager Joe Altobelli.36
“It was a little depressing getting sent down,” Ramirez admitted. He returned to the Orioles in early September and said, “I’d rather be a yo-yo than spend all of my time at Rochester. I can’t complain about what’s happened.”37 On September 13 in Boston, he made what proved to be the final outing of his major-league career. Ramirez started the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park and retired all four batters that he faced before leaving with a pulled muscle in his left ribcage.38 (Three of them were future Hall of Famers: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski.) With only 20 regular-season games remaining, Ramirez’s season was over. The Orioles clinched the AL East 12 days later, handled the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to win the 1983 World Series. Although he wasn’t on the postseason roster, the Orioles still rewarded Ramirez with a World Series ring in recognition of his midseason contributions.
Even before he was hurt, Ramirez had decided not to pitch winter ball. “I feel like I have most of my pitches pretty well established now, so I don’t need to spend a full season in the winter leagues,” he said. “I want to be fully ready for the next spring training.”39
“I wanted to prove to them, I could be one of their five starters for the 1984 season,” Ramirez reflected in 2022. “So, during the first week of practice, my arm was feeling good, and I basically threw too hard too soon. I felt something give in my shoulder. After that, I didn’t pitch very well and I was sent down to Triple A.” Ramirez went 4-10 with a 4.36 ERA for Rochester and spent more than six weeks on the disabled list.40 “I pitched the whole season with a torn rotator cuff,” he said. He underwent surgery that fall, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Columbus, Georgia.
Following an extensive rehabilitation program, Ramirez started the 1985 season in the Single-A FSL. He made four starts for the Daytona Beach Admirals before he was assigned to Baltimore’s Double-A Charlotte affiliate on May 24. After posting a 7.94 ERA in two starts, he was placed on the disabled list on June 7, and went home shortly thereafter.41 “The shoulder felt good for about a month and then started to progressively get worse with every start,” Ramirez said. “It got to feeling as bad as the previous year. That’s when I knew my playing days were over.”
Ramirez and Hilda had two daughters, Renee and Felice, when he retired. Later, they added a son, Robert. After baseball, Ramirez spent 28 years with Roerig Pharmaceutical, a medical equipment supplier in Victoria, including 12 years as a general manager. Hilda became a registered nurse. As of 2022, the couple still resides in Victoria, where Ramirez sells houses for Palm Harbor Homes and encourages his grandson, Ty, a high-school baseball player.
In 1988, Ramirez was inducted into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. Although many of his records had been broken, the Houston Chronicle opined in 2001, “The premier power pitcher in school history was Allan Ramirez… He threw 93 mph and had a dazzling overhand curve. Ramirez is credited by some longtime Rice fans as one of the keys to getting the school’s baseball program noticed.”42 Between 1981 and 2022, 15 Rice Owls were selected in the first round of the June Amateur draft, including future All-Stars Norm Charlton, Lance Berkman, and Anthony Rendon.
“It amazes me how many people come up to me and just say, ‘232 pitches,’” remarked Ramirez, 45 years after his epic effort against the University of Texas. “They can’t believe it and sometimes neither can I… They also know that I earned a World Series ring and want to see it. I never wear it because it attracts too much attention.”
When asked what baseball fans should know about him, Ramirez answered, “I’m a Christian and I’m mostly a quiet person… I worked very hard to get to the ultimate level of baseball. God gave me a talent, and I used it as long as he saw fit. What I miss about the game of baseball is the guys you played with. I miss the camaraderie you have with your fellow teammates.”
Last revised: August 8, 2022
Special thanks to Allan Ramirez for his detailed answers in an email interview with the author on May 7, 2022.
This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and David Bilmes and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.
In addition to sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted www.baseball-reference.com, www.retrosheet.org, and https://sabr.org/bioproject.
1 Allan Ramirez, Email interview with Malcolm Allen, May 7, 2022.
2 Unless otherwise cited, all Allan Ramirez quotes are from an email interview with Malcolm Allen on May 7, 2022.
3 Orioles 1984 Media Guide: 165.
4 Michael A. Lutz, “Rice Shutout Ace Allan Ramirez Stuns SWC,” Del Rio (Texas) News Herald, March 9, 1976: 7.
5 Kirk Bohls, “Gustafson Letter Angers Owls Pitcher Ramirez,” Austin (Texas) American Statesman, March 27, 1977: H1.
6 “Rice University Owls, Yearly Record,” https://www.thebaseballcube.com/content/college_history/20032/ (last accessed May 11, 2022).
7 Lutz, “Rice Shutout Ace Allan Ramirez Stuns SWC.”
8 For three decades prior to Ramirez’s freshman season, the single-season SWC strikeout record had belonged to future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne of the University of Texas. “Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, Allan Ramirez,” https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/64017 (last accessed May 14, 2022).
9 Bohls, “Gustafson Letter Angers Owls Pitcher Ramirez.”
10 “Kirk Bohls, “UT Streak Was Fun While It Lasted,” Austin American Statesman, March 28, 1977: D1.
11 Kirk Bohls, “After 13, Ramirez’s Arm ‘Numb, a Rag,’” Austin American Statesman, March 28, 1977: D1.
12 Ramirez struck out 12, walked 11, and allowed eight hits – three of which didn’t leave the infield. Kenny Baldwin, whose professional career peaked in Double A, delivered the game-winning hit for Rice. Texas’s Steve Day, who played one professional season at Class A in 1977, attempted the game-ending squeeze. Bohls, “UT Streak Was Fun While It Lasted.”
13 Bohls, “After 13, Ramirez’s Arm ‘Numb, a Rag.’”
14 Kirk Bohls, “Rice’s Ramirez to Go After 3rd Career Win Over ‘Horns,” Austin American Statesman, March 30, 1979: E1.
15 Allan Ramirez, Publicity questionnaire for William J. Weiss, January 5, 1980.
16 “Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, Allan Ramirez.”
17 Ramirez, Publicity questionnaire for William J. Weiss.
18 Orioles 1984 Media Guide: 165.
19 Orioles 1984 Media Guide: 165.
20 Ray Parrillo, “Ramirez Sent to Rochester,” Baltimore Sun, June 15, 1983: D1.
21 Baltimore Orioles ’82 Information Guide: 135.
22 Greg Boeck, “Ramirez Puts Arm Trouble Behind Him,” Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), March 26, 1982: 31.
23 As a 1977 rookie, Martínez went 14-7 with a 4.10 ERA in 42 appearances (13 starts). “Oriole Pitching Staff Isn’t Settled,” Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware), March 17, 1982: 30.
24 Boeck, “Ramirez Puts Arm Trouble Behind Him.”
25 Associated Press, “Orioles Demote Ramirez to Wings,” Democrat and Chronicle, April 3, 1982: 27.
26 Orioles 1983 Media Guide: 141.
27 Ray Parrillo, “Davis Sets His Mind on Royals,” Baltimore Sun, August 18, 1983: D2.
28 Baseball-Reference list Ramirez’s weight as 180 pounds, but 190 is the figure in Baltimore’s media guide. Kent Baker, “Birds Bring Ramirez Up for Start,” Baltimore Sun, June 7, 1983: C2.
29 Ray Parrillo, “Ripken Homer Lifts O’s Over Brewers, 3-2,” Baltimore Sun, June 14, 1983: D1.
30 Parrillo, “Ramirez Sent to Rochester.”
31 Thomas Boswell, “Ramirez Extends Orioles Week of Minor Miracles,” Washington Post, July 13, 1983: B1.
32 Sam McManis, “Angels Wilt in 97-Degree Heat and Limp Home Following 11-1 Loss to Orioles,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1983: D1.
33 Thomas Boswell, “Ramirez’s Fastballs Perplex Angels,” Washington Post, July 18, 1983: D1.
34 Kent Baker, “Ramirez Stifles Angels, 11-1, With 16-hit Help,” Baltimore Sun, July 18, 1983: D1.
35 Greg Boeck, “Peters Credits Rochester for Oriole Success,” Democrat and Chronicle, July 22, 1983: 27.
36 Ray Parrillo, “Birds Send Ramirez to Rochester,” Baltimore Sun, September 1, 1983: D2.
37 Bill Glauber, “Ramirez Does Yo-Yo Imitation,” Baltimore Sun, September 6, 1983: D2.
38 Orioles 1984 Media Guide: 165.
39 Kent Baker, “Ramirez May Be Out for Season,” Baltimore Sun, September 15, 1983: C2.
40 Orioles Media Guide ’85: 166.
41 Patti Singer, “Ramirez Retires,” Democrat and Chronicle, October 20, 1985: 6E.
42 Neal Farmer, “Rice’s Baugh Combines Brains with a Live Arm,” Houston Chronicle, May 24, 2001, https://www.chron.com/sports/college/article/Rice-s-Baugh-combines-brains-with-a-live-arm-2046937.php (last accessed May 15, 2022).
Daniel Allan Ramirez
May 1, 1957 at Victoria, TX (USA)
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