Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Major Leaguer and International Track Star

For those who have been following my blog for a little while, you might be aware that I am an avid runner.  I competed in cross country and track all throughout high school and college and have continued that athletic endeavor into my post-schooling life.  I have competed in road races throughout the state and even jumped into the Chicago Marathon a few years ago.

As such, pretty much every day is "running day" to me; however, according to the social medias, today is #GlobalRunningDay.  So, now even though I have tickets to the game tonight against the Dodgers, I will be extra motivated to squeeze a run in between work and catching the train downtown.

In honor of Global Running Day, let's profile a former Cubs player who might also be partaking in the festivities:

Fernando Ramsey played all of one month in the Major Leagues, his time being spent with the Cubs in 1992.  The September call-up from Panama wasn't particularly noteworthy, posting a weak .120 batting average over the course of 25 at-bats.

That said, while patrolling the outfield, Fernando had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and his speed (he stole 43 bases in the minors in '90) kept many a ball from breaching the gap.  In fact, it was his fleet feet that brought him his first taste of athletic notoriety; however, as the back of this 1993 Upper Deck card informs us, this notoriety did not come on the baseball diamond.

Okay - so that's pretty tough to see.  Let's zoom in:

Also, not entirely accurate, but we'll get to that.

You see, prior to being drafted in the 33rd round of 1987 MLB Amateur Draft, Ramsey was a track & field star in his native Panama.  The pinnacle of his running/sprinting career came in the 1984 Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships (not the Olympics, as UD reported), held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  This prestigious track meet was first held in 1974 and features competing countries from Central America and the Caribbean Islands.  In fact, this meet has helped launch the careers of many international track stars, including one by the name of Usain Bolt.

In that 1984 running, Ramsey took home the bronze medal for the 100 meters with a time of 10.65 seconds.  In fact, Fernando was only .01 second away from the silver in a photo finish with Bermuda's William Trott, who would go on to compete in the Olympics that summer.  

The end of the 4x100m relay event from the 2013 edition, image courtesy of IAAF
Unfortunately, my research has uncovered no images from Fernando's track career.

Personally, I've always been more of a long-distance runner than a sprinter, focusing on the mile in high school and the 5k in college.  However, I did serve as a 200m competitor on a emergency basis.

Shortly after that Championship meet, Ramsey took his talents to North America at New Mexico State University where the multi-faceted athlete starred on the Aggies baseball team, as well as their track and field squad.

**EDIT**  It seems to be a common misconception that Fernando sprinted in Olympic competition.  In addition to the note on the back of that Upper Deck card, I stumbled across this team-issued card from the Peoria Chiefs:

I don't actually have this one; image courtesy of the Trading Card Database

Ty Griffin most certainly was on the Team USA baseball team during the 1988 edition; however, I can find absolutely no record of Ramsey having competed in the world's oldest athletic competition.  Upon seeing this card, I immediately began to doubt my conclusion.  But, in going over the records with a fine-toothed comb again, the only men I can find who competed for Panama on the track in 1984 were Alfonso Pitters (100m) and Florencio Aguilar (200m).

Additionally, Fernando Ramsey does not have an entry on, the Olympic-version of Baseball Reference.

So, while the Peoria Chiefs and Upper Deck might be correct in reporting that Fernando Ramsey did have an international track career, it seems as though it did not take him to the Olympics.  That said, if I'm missing something, please tell me how stupid I am!

Florencio Aguilar is the runner on the right, image courtesy of La Prensa

Back on the diamond, it seems somewhat appropriate that Fernando's Big League career was over in a flash, seemingly quicker than an Olympic sprint.  Post-1992, Fernando continued to play in the minors with the Cubs, Reds, Mets and White Sox organizations, as well as the Mexican League, before calling it a career in 1997.  As of today, Fernando appears to be a successful real estate agent with Century 21 - no doubt he's flipping houses with great speed!

And so, that's the story of the man who was lucky enough to play for the Chicago Cubs AND become an international track star.  Not a bad "run" of success, I'd say.

Anyway, there's not a lot of overlap between the worlds of track & field and professional baseball; thus, #GlobalRunningDay felt like the perfect time to let Fernando Ramsey take the spotlight on my humble, little Cubs baseball card blog.

Meanwhile, I am raring to get out and celebrate the day accordingly... that is, as soon as I've survived the work day.  I'll be motivated to make it a quick-ish run too - as I mentioned, I have tickets to tonight's contest between the Cubs and the Dodgers at 7:05 - I'm thinking a five mile run at 6:30 mile pace.  Rain, rain, stay away!

A very happy Global Running Day goes out to Fernando Ramsey and the blogosphere!


  1. Maybe a few laps around the concourse will do...

    Nice post. 1993 Upper Deck has some great photography in it and this one is no slouch with some colorful ivy and a Hawk cameo!

  2. But look at the SB line - 0! No SBs with that speed! Too bad.

  3. Fernando was one of my Peoria Chiefs back in the day, so it's good to see him doing well for himself.

    I had to take three weeks off from running because of a bum knee, but I was able to get 3 miles in this morning, albeit at a much slower pace than what you mentioned above. I've been playing playing and coaching baseball since I was six, and I only ran cross country my junior and senior years of high school, but ironically running has been my most consistent form of exercise in adulthood.