May 24, 2011 - by
Gripped by Family

May 24, 2011

By Scott Kotick,


It’s more than just a baseball bat.  Whether it’s the color, a motivational message, the pine tar, or even a number on the handle, a player’s personality shines through the bat and it becomes a symbol of who they are.


So when it came time for James Ramsey to let the bat become his voice, he started with something vital to every baseball player: the grip.  


“You have to find what’s comfortable for you, and for me it’s definitely been a tennis grip,” Ramsey said.  “The cushion, the feel of it, the tac, it’s just something i’ve always found to be the best way.  So ever since high school, I’ve always gone to the store and bought tennis grips and put them on my bat instead.”


“It’s definitely better on your hands, and gives you a better feel for the bat,” sophomore 2nd baseman Devon Travis said.  “You see guys like James and Mike (McGee) using it and they hit pretty well.  So I said, ‘Hey Ram, can I get a tennis grip please?'”


Ramsey grew up in a suburb of Atlanta like most kids playing every sport, but was born to play baseball at Florida State.  His father, Craig, was the team captain of Mike Martin’s first team as head coach in 1980 and even led them to a trip to Omaha and the College World Series. 


So with last year’s trip to Rosenblatt, both father and son got to experience the game’s biggest stage together in the garnet and gold.


“It’s like a dream come true,” Craig Ramsey said.  “You hope your kids grow up and do well at whatever they do, but to have a son that’s playing at your alma mater that we get to come watch and enjoy is great.


“It is special, and you kind of forget about it in the moment of the game, because I’m a fan first and then certainly a parent, so I’m hoping we win most of the ball games.”


Yet Craig Ramsey is just half of the story. 


Mary Beck was a standout women’s tennis player at Florida State in 1978 and married a certain Seminole baseball team captain named Craig a few years later.   


“It’s a special place and always will be, and what’s really special is I met my wife here,” Craig Ramsey said.


“I met Craig, and he ended up asking me to marry him and giving me the ring at the fountain up at Westcott,” Mary Ramsey said.  


So when it came time for Mary Ramsey’s children to become involved in sports, tennis was of course going to be high on the list for James.


“He was a good tennis player, he grew up playing lots of tennis and using this wrap,” Mary Ramsey said.  “So on the baseball bat, he started wrapping it on the handle and liked the feel.  It’s good having some tennis represented, so that’s a good thing.”


“Something tangible like this grip really shows that her influence on me is just as strong as my Dad, which gets lost in the mix sometimes,” James Ramsey said.


“She gets pretty comfortable when James is swinging up there,” Craig Ramsey said.  “She’s (Mary) got the natural backhand anyway, I think he’s probably got some of that swing from her backhand.”


So every time James steps to the plate, he’s carrying a bat that symbolizes not one, but both of his parents.  That tennis he learned so many years ago from his mother has become one of the biggest parts of his baseball game today.


“I started playing tennis at an extremely young age, probably as young as I started playing baseball,” James Ramsey said.  “Guys give me a hard time sometimes, because I’ll flick a base hit and it will kind of look like a tennis swing.  I’m out on my front foot a little bit, so without a doubt that influence has been strong.”


And it was never tennis or baseball.  It was both.  It was family.  And it was Florida State, no matter what.


“James came here as a little boy for football games, baseball games, we have every picture of him in Seminole garb,” Mary Ramsey said.  “He’s been a Seminole lover always.”


“The opportunity to play in the garnet and gold is something that having seen both my parents do, I can continue doing and it’s great,” James Ramsey said.  “The Seminole tradition is something that’s very strong, not only in me but in other athletes who’s parents went here and played here.  We all have that in common and it’s something that’s a pretty strong bond.”


“It was a dream to have him come here, and it was something he really wanted,” Mary Ramsey said.  “But to have him do well and do well in school…it’s always been a big part of who we are, James’ brothers and sisters love it also and we’re always out cheering on the Noles.”


It’s more than just a bat.  The symbol isn’t his swing or really even the grip.  It’s not one sport or the other.  It’s family.  And for the Ramseys, that means garnet and gold, from one generation to the next.  

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