Olympics a great memory for Ramirez

August, 12, 2012
8/12/12
5:01
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez was given two medals for being part of the gold-winning Cuba baseball team in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

As for the first one, he has no idea where it is. It was misplaced during a move from the Dominican Republic to Chicago in 2007.

The second, he’s telling no one its location.

[+] EnlargeAlexei Ramirez
AP Photo/Eric GayAlexei Ramirez played on Cuba's gold-medal winning Olympic team in 2004.
The White Sox were able to obtain another gold medal for him from the International Olympic Committee, and it was presented to him by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Ramirez’s close friend Jose Contreras at a ceremony in June.

“I’m not going to tell anybody,” Ramirez said through a team translator when asked this week where his new medal was presently.

Although Ramirez wouldn’t share those details, he was willing to talk about his experiences winning the gold and being at the Olympics. As he’s watched this year’s Olympics, he’s been brought back to his own Olympics.

“I definitely watch the Olympics,” said Ramirez, who defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic in 2007. “I watch a lot of different sports going on. There’s definitely times where you kind of get those memories and feelings. Even though it’s been eight years since then, yeah, it kind of brings some thoughts back.

“Athens was a great experience. It’s something I remember every moment from getting there to the day I left. You get really emotional. There’s just so much that goes on. It’s hard to describe.”

Standing on the podium and being awarded the gold medal trumped all Ramirez’s memories.

“It’s something I’ll never forget and something that kind of brought everything to a head with all the hard work that we did,” Ramirez said. “Just to say we took it all and won it all.

“It’s an incredible feeling. It’s one of those you have pride, joy. You even cry tears. You have to experience it in order to really know how it feels.”

Ramirez felt it was unfortunate other baseball players won’t get that opportunity now. Baseball was cut along with softball from the 2012 Olympics. The two sports’ governing bodies are hoping to have them returned for the 2020 Olympics.

“I definitely feel bad for it,” Ramirez said of baseball’s Olympic departure. “It’s something I have such great memories from. I’m trying to think of the right word to say how I feel about it. It’s one of those I can’t exactly understand, but it’s part of the games.

“Baseball is such a beautiful sport. I think it should be a part of the Olympics.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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