June 6, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — James Ramsey’s ability to make bold decisions started at a young age, it seems.
It all started 10 or so years ago while on a trip to St. Louis with his little league baseball team when Ramsey and his teammates got to walk on to the turf of the old Busch Stadium.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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“Jim Edmonds was one of my favorite players and he was walking from batting practice from the locker room to the dugout so I went out of my way and patted him on the back and said, ‘Jim, go get ’em today,'” Ramsey said.
Ramsey’s decision to approach a boyhood baseball hero would prove to be a precursor to an even harder baseball-related decision later in life — one that would ironically lead him right back to where the original bold decision took place.
When he decided to turn down an opportunity to play for Minnesota after the Twins selected him in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Ramsey effectively went against the pro-sports grain. Typically, drafted juniors don’t return to school — especially when there is a half-a-million dollars hanging in the balance. And in the rare occasions when that player does decide to return, their draft stock oftentimes doesn’t improve.
“I was called every name in the book; fool, idiot, stupid,” Ramsey said. “I’ll leave some of them out.”
Twelve months, a strong summer-time showing in the Cape Cod Baseball League, an Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year award and an impending matchup with Stanford with the chance to play in the College World Series later, Ramsey’s difficult decision was more than validated to those outside the trusted circle of his family, friends and Seminole supporters.
That same St. Louis Cardinals organization featured in one of his fondest childhood baseball memories is the same one that selected Ramsey with the 23rd overall pick of the 2012 draft late Monday night — a full 665 spots earlier than he was taken last year.
“This guy worked extremely hard for four years to be the best he could be in the classroom, on the field, in the clubhouse,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “He got what he deserved and that make all of us feel good. …He’s the best influence that we’ve had in this program in years. He plays the game hard every day. He encourages his teammates.
“He’s the first guy in the history of the program to wear a `C’ on his chest. It’s deserved.”
A shortstop when he arrived at Florida State before being converted into an outfielder, Ramsey’s evolution into one of the best players in FSU’s storied baseball history and the latest in a long line of first-round draft selections wasn’t by accident.
It was because of that work ethic.
“It’s hard to really describe when a guy comes in and basically runs the wrong way after fly balls, he runs hard into the wall but the ball is a long way away,” FSU assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr. said. “He swings hard and misses a lot, but he has incredible personality, work ethic, and for it to come to a head and for him to be picked where he’s picked I got teary eyed.”
Martin, Jr. and the rest of FSU’s coaches, players and fans will get to see Ramsey compete in Tallahassee one last time this weekend when the Seminoles host the Cardinal in a super regional.
Ramsey’s decision to return to FSU last year wasn’t about the money or draft positioning. It wasn’t about proving people wrong. It was about playing in a series like the one this weekend with so much on the line.
It was about doing something that has never been done at Florida State.
Someday maybe he’ll be the Cardinals star getting a pat on his back. But right now, it’s all about getting a national championship ring on his finger.
“There’s a reason I’ve got a Florida State shirt on right now; there’s a reason that hat’s not on my head yet,” Ramsey said, looking at the Cardinals cap placed on the table in front of him.
“It’s because there’s so much left to do, and my teammates know my commitment to them.”