- Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes
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MIAMI -- On the most important day of his career, Hanley Ramirez tried to take it all in stride.
Ramirez, the rising young star of the Florida Marlins, was teaching his wife, Elizabeth, how to drive when he got the call from the Baseball Writers' Association of America and found out he had won the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
"I'm very blessed. I'm very fortunate," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com from his home in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. "I'm experiencing so many emotions at the same time. I can't describe how happy I've been from last February until now."
Ramirez is the sixth Dominican-born player to be Rookie of the Year, following Alfredo Griffin (1979) and Angel Berroa (2003) in the AL, and Raul Mondesi (1994), Rafael Furcal (2000) and Albert Pujols (2001) in the NL.
Ramirez, acquired by the Marlins from the Red Sox in the offseason deal that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, was named Florida's starting shortstop in the spring by then-manager Joe Girardi. The 22-year-old quickly justified his skipper's decision.
Ramirez topped all rookies in baseball in average (.292), hits (185), triples (11), stolen bases (51) and runs (119). He was second among first-year players in doubles (46), while hitting 17 home runs with 59 RBI.
"I always knew I could play, but it wasn't likely to happen in Boston," said Ramirez, who is the second Marlin to win the award (Dontrelle Willis won it in 2003). "I'm grateful to the Red Sox for trading me and to the Marlins for giving me the chance."
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called Ramirez to congratulate him on the award, and during the call he gave the shortstop permission to play winter ball in the D.R. with the Licey Tigers.
"I really want to play in front of my people, and Loria gave me that special gift," Ramirez said. "I'm doubly happy now."
"I always knew I could play, but it wasn't likely to happen in Boston. I'm grateful to the Red Sox for trading me and to the Marlins for giving me the chance."
-- Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez was giving his wife the driving lesson when he was informed of the award. "I didn't want to alter my regular routine, and reviewing the driving lesson was one of the last chores on my list," he said.
Upon learning the news, the young couple went home to the house they share with their 2-year-old son (Hanley Jr.) and Hanley's parents.
"My mother was going crazy trying to locate the whole family to throw a little party," Ramirez said.
His mother, Isabel, put everything in perspective: "The first celebration is to give thanks to God for blessing this house."
The new NL Rookie of the Year summed up his emotions: "The best reward is to be with my family in these special moments."
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.
4hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
5hAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com
1dAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com