Manny Ramirez was signed to a $160 million contract heading into the 2001 season, one that would keep him in Boston through at least 2008. During that stretch, he made the All-Star team every single year with the Red Sox, This shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone who remembers watching him, as he combined an incredible batting eye and swing with some of the top homer power of anyone in his generation, but if you're forgetting just how good he was, consider this a reminder: Ramirez hit .312/.411/.588 over the course of 4,682 plate appearances with Boston. That stretch included 274 homers, 256 doubles, and nearly 700 walks in addition to over 1,200 hits.
Sometimes we forget because of his antics, but it''s no wonder he was always in the mid-summer classic while he was in town thanks to play that spectacular. The 2004 season was one of of his best. That year, he hit .308/.397/.613, finished third in the MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger award, and eventually took home World Series MVP honors in addition to the series honors that had eluded Boston since 1918.
A little more than halfway through the year, he was part of another big game, in which the American League stomped all over National League starter Roger Clemens in the first inning. Following an Ivan Rodriguez RBI triple, Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer off of Clemens that made the score 3-0. With a little help from Derek Jeter (single) and Ichiro Suzuki (double), those four batters hit for the cycle by themselves -- the first time All-Star team to do so -- in the inning and contributed to the AL's early 6-0 lead.
That would be his lone hit of the game, as his second at-bat ended with an out, but it was a historic and important one. The six runs scored by the AL in the first were enough to win them the game -- one they eventually took 9-4 -- an event that took on more meaning for Ramirez when Boston ended up in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The players influencing the All-Star game's final score don't always get to directly reap the benefits of home field advantage as Ramirez did, but this one time, in this specific year, Boston and its fans would take any help they could get for achieving the goal of a World Series victory.