LOS ANGELES -- Robert Porras had not been to a Dodgers game all season before Friday, but he wanted to be front and center for the circus sure to surround Manny Ramirez's first game for the Dodgers. So Porras waited almost two hours to buy a pair of $300 seats by the dugout on the first-base side, so that he and his son, who is an Angels fan, could be right in the middle of the action. Porras even went to a Halloween shop to buy a wig that resembles Ramirez's dreadlocks and then threw down $280 for an authentic Ramirez "99" jersey in hopes of getting on the Jumbotron.
"Even if they lose, it doesn't matter, it's just the hype," Porras said. "I like Manny Ramirez." Many Dodgers fans like Porras packed Dodger Stadium on Friday to see that spectacle that is Ramirez's debut. Fans cheered Ramirez loudly when the Jumbotron showed him during warmups and when his name was announced in the starting lineup. The Dodgers then showed a montage of Ramirez's career highlights before his first at-bat in the bottom of the second, leading to a chant of "Manny, Manny" that built in intensity around the stadium. Flashbulbs went off throughout the venue when Ramirez strolled to the plate, as if this were a red carpet Hollywood extravaganza, cheering Ramirez, even when he grounded out to shortstop on the first pitch of his at-bat. He later got a standing ovation after singling to left. Ken Jones was so excited about the Ramirez trade that he immediately bought tickets for Friday's game when he found out about the deal. He then showed up early for the 7:40 p.m. PT contest and scored the first Ramirez "99" T-shirt right at 5:30. "For him to come here, I know he's got a goofy attitude like a lot of us do at work," Jones said. "Like, 'I don't like this job anymore, you guys are pressing me too hard.' I've left jobs too where I don't like working here anymore. "I'm excited for him to be here because he's going to have a new attitude, and it's going to give the Dodgers an excellent chance down the stretch. There's a big bat in the lineup. It totally changes the complexion of the team." Young Evan Tugliow may have been the only fan to wear a "34" Ramirez Red Sox jersey, which made for an interesting match with his Dodgers cap. Tugliow's father took his boys to Fenway Park earlier this year and bought his son the jersey of his favorite Boston player. Needless to say the youngster was excited by having Ramirez dealt to his hometown team. "I was thrilled because he'll help the Dodgers get to the World Series," Tuliglow said. "They needed a power hitter." Michael Aronowitz said he thinks the deal will help the Dodgers reach the playoffs, but he's not sure how far they'll go in October. He said he's not too wrapped up in the deal like so many other fans are because Ramirez may not be a Dodger beyond this season. "I'm not a big fan of these rent-a-player things, although he probably will help them, so it's kind of like mixed emotions," Aronowitz said. Jose Reveles joined Porras by wearing Ramirez-style dreads to the game because of the deal that he called "a big thing" for the city of Los Angeles. Reveles roots for the Dodgers, but he's also a Ramirez fan. He said he was listening to the radio on Thursday around the 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline while the commentators spoke about how the Angels were taking over Los Angeles. Then they broke the news of the Ramirez trade and Reveles' heart dropped, comparing the moment to his mom telling him he's going to Disneyland. "I follow Manny because he's one of those players that if you're walking by the TV and he's hitting you're going to stop and see what he does, because he's always doing something unpredictable," Reveles said. "Hopefully Manny Ramirez is the guy that we're looking for. Hopefully he gets us over that hump and takes us to the promised land."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.