Hall of Fame base­ball an­nouncer Rafael “Felo” Ramirez dies at 94

South Florida Times - - OBITUARIES - Associ­ated Press The Associ­ated Press.

MI­AMI – Rafael ”Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame base­ball ra­dio broad­caster who was the sig­na­ture voice for mil­lions of Span­ish­s­peak­ing sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Mi­ami Mar­lins an­nounced Ramirez’s death in a state­ment on Tues­day morn­ing. The or­ga­ni­za­tion says he died Mon­day night.

”The en­tire Mar­lins or­ga­ni­za­tion is deeply sad­dened by the loss of a great friend, Hallof-Fame broad­caster and com­mu­nity icon, Felo Ramirez,” the Mar­lins said in the state­ment. ”Since our in­au­gu­ral sea­son, he brought home prac­ti­cally ev­ery mag­i­cal mo­ment in fran­chise his­tory to gen­er­a­tions of fans. A true broad­cast leg­end, Felo lent his voice to over 30 World Se­ries and All-Star Games and his ex­ten­sive con­tri­bu­tions to our game will never be for­got­ten.”

Ramirez fell and struck his head while get­ting off the Mar­lins team bus April 26, dur­ing a se­ries in Philadel­phia. He spent two months in a Delaware hospi­tal be­fore he was brought to Mi­ami where he con­tin­ued his re­cov­ery. He be­gan his broad­cast­ing ca­reer in Cuba in 1945 be­fore call­ing 31 All-Star games and World Se­ries in Span­ish. He had been the Florida Mar­lins’ Span­ish-lan­guage an­nouncer since 1993 and was in­ducted into base­ball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

Ramirez was not the tallest of men, but his size be­lied his strong voice and stature in the broad­cast­ing com­mu­nity. He was known for an ex­pres­sive, yet low-key style and his sig­na­ture strike call of ”Essstrike.”

Sev­eral Span­ish-lan­guage broad­cast­ers, in­clud­ing Amury Pi-Gon­za­lez of the Seat­tle Mariners and San Fran­cisco Giants, have ad­mit­ted to em­u­lat­ing his style.

Cookie Rojas, a for­mer player and man­ager in Cuba and the ma­jor leagues, once said Ramirez was ad­mired by sports fans who lis­tened to Span­ish-lan­guage broad­casts.

”When you hear Felo Ramirez an­nounce a game, you in­stantly know its Felo Ramirez,” said Rojas, a for­mer Span­ish-lan­guage tele­vi­sion an­nouncer for the Mar­lins. ”His voice is one of the most ac­cept­able and dis­tin­guish­able around. Felo’s in­flu­ence on Latin Amer­i­cans in the United States is un­doubtable.”

Ramirez’s big break came when he landed a job in 1950 with the Gil­lette Caval­cade of Sports, which in­tro­duced him to ma­jor league base­ball.

The Caval­cade broad­cast in English and Span­ish the base­ball game of the week and box­ing matches.While Amer­i­cans were lis­ten­ing to Mel Allen and Red Bar­ber, more than 200 Latin Amer­i­can ra­dio stations car­ried Ramirez and his part­ner, fu­ture Hall of Famer Buck Canel.

Ramirez left Cuba in the early 1960s, after Fidel Cas­tro’s revo­lu­tion. Tony Perez, a Cuban-born Hall of Fame first and third base­man, said he re­mem­bers lis­ten­ing with his fa­ther as Ramirez called games in Cuba. Perez is now a spe­cial as­sis­tant with the Mar­lins.

”He was a great man and we all loved him,” Perez said, adding that Ramirez was al­ways talk­ing about base­ball. ”He never wanted to quit. He wanted to keep do­ing games and trav­el­ing.” When the Yan­kees’ Don Larsen pitched his per­fect game in the World Se­ries in 1956, Ramirez called the emo­tional last four in­nings, de­scrib­ing in Span­ish how catcher Yogi Berra jumped into his pitcher’s arms.

Ramirez was also there the day Roberto Cle­mente got his 3,000th and fi­nal hit.

When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run in 1974, Ramirez and Canel were broad­cast­ing from the roof of At­lanta Ful­ton County Sta­dium. That call is en­shrined in Coop­er­stown.

Be­tween Oc­to­ber and Fe­bru­ary, Ramirez would broad­cast games in the Puerto Ri­can and Venezue­lan pro­fes­sional leagues, a com­mit­ment that lasted for more than 30 years.

When the Florida Mar­lins emerged in 1993, Ramirez quickly landed the job. Four years later, Ramirez was call­ing the Mar­lins’ first World Se­ries win. ”That’s a last­ing mem­ory in my mind,” Ramirez re­called in a 2001 in­ter­view with

In that in­ter­view, Ramirez rec­og­nized he was near­ing the end of an ac­com­plished ca­reer. ”But ev­ery time I sit down to de­scribe the game, I can still see ev­ery­thing that hap­pens and it still comes nat­u­rally for me,” he said.

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