1977
RAMON AVILES   IF

Ramon Aviles could play baseball signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1969 after graduating from high school. Juan Beniquez, then in the Red Sox system, was a friend of his and convinced him to go to a Red Sox tryout.

Ramon made his debut with the Class-A Greenville Red Sox in 1970 and was primarily a shortstop. Over the off-season, the Red Sox had him and several other highly regarded infielder prospects learn all the infield positions besides first base. The idea was that the versatility would help improve their chances, as well as the clubís. The training must have paid off, because Ramon would go on to play all over the diamond in his career.

His rise through the Red Sox system was a slow one. He spent three seasons at the AA level and kept working on his fielding, improving at every position on the infield and even playing the occasional inning in the outfield. He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket in 1975.

After a decent 1976 campaign in AAA, he was on track to make the 1977 Red Sox Opening Day roster. In fact, he had been told that heíd made the team, but two days after they told him, he got hurt on a collision with Jim Rice and separated his shoulder. He missed time with the injury and never got on track once he started playing. However, the Red Sox needed a infielder and brought him to the majors in June. Then, for the most part, manager Don Zimmer apparently forgot he was on the roster. That was it for his Red Sox career. He stayed in the majors for another couple of weeks but never got into another game.

Despite the lack of playing time, Ramon was happy to be in the majors. The Red Sox brought him back from AAA in September, but he never got into another game. The next time he played in the majors, he was wearing a Phillies uniform. The Red Sox sold his contract to Philadelphia after the 1977 season, and he spent all of 1978 with the Phillies AAA team in Oklahoma City.

His big break came when Phillies second baseman Manny Trillo broke his forearm after being hit by a pitch. A day later, Ramon was in the majors. Then he just kept hitting and through May, he had at least one hit in every game where he came to bat and was hitting a scorching .480 with eight RBIs. Pitchers eventually adjusted to him, and he was sent back to the minors in mid-June.

It happened again, in almost the exact same way, in 1980. He became a valuable utility infielder who stayed with the Phillies through the end of the season, as well as their postseason run that culminated with a World Series win over the Royals.

He didnít have the same kind of luck in 1981. He started the season with the Phillies, but he struggled badly at the bat and was sent to the minors and after the 1981 season, he was traded to Texas.

The Phillies liked Ramon and kept him in the organization. He managed the teamís Rookie League team in Bend, Ore., in 1985 and was named the first manager of the Clearwater Phillies of the Florida State League for 1985. Every year, he would be a part of the Phillies minor-league organization. Sometimes he was a coach, and sometimes he was a manager, but he was an integral part of the development of young players throughout the 1980s and í90s.

Throughout his tenure with the Phillies, he also worked as a manager and general manager in the Puerto Rican winter league, becoming somewhat of a Caribbean legend in the process. He acknowledged that he had dreams of being the first Puerto Rican to manage in the major leagues. That dream didnít come true, but he influenced several generations of young Phillies as they made their way through the minor leagues.

Ramon moved to the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 2005 and his last managerial assignment was in 2008 with the Burlington Lake Monsters in the Washington Nationals organization. His final coaching role appears to have been in 2009, when he was the hitting instructor for the Hagerstown Suns.

Ramon Aviles died in his hometown of Manati, Puerto Rico on January 27, 2020 at the age of 68, suffering from complications of diabetes and high blood pressure.