Shockwaves rippled through the sports world earlier this month when Tampa Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez passed away. The team’s bullpen catcher was in the prime of his coaching career, working for a major league baseball team and making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. However, financial success does not always equate to personal happiness, as evidenced by the results of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s autopsy of the catcher’s body. The Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Ramirez died by suicide.
Details of the Death
The Tampa Bay Times reports Ramirez’s body was found in a large field near his childhood home in Fort Worth, Texas. His body was discovered adjacent to a creek bed. Ramirez was only 28-years-old.
Ramirez worked for the Rays for nearly half a decade prior to his death. He was a minor league player in the Rays system until 2018. The Rays released him during his minor league stint, but he returned to the team to serve as the squad’s bullpen catcher in the ’20-’21 season. In fact, Ramirez was still working as the team’s bullpen catcher at the time of his death.
Though it has been revealed that Ramirez committed suicide, little else is known about his personal life. The catcher’s family released the following statement:
“The loss of our son has been the most excruciating experience we have lived through. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t see the signs. Struggling in silence is not OK. It is our commitment to honor our son’s life by helping other families. No parent should have to endure the loss of their child.”
The statement explains how the family is grateful to the Rays for giving Ramirez a chance to pursue his dream. The family considers the Rays organization to be an extension of their family. The statement concludes by expressing gratitude to the family’s friends and everyone who has offered support and love, ending with “God bless you! Rays Up in Heaven.”
The ballplayer’s family used their public forum to highlight the fact that they failed to see the signs of his depression and lack of a will to live. The family also noted the loss of their son has been “the most excruciating experience” they have lived through.
The Ramirez Family Wants to Help
The family also provided a public service announcement in an effort to encourage those struggling with depression and mental illness, pointing to the fact that there is a 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available by phone at 1-800-273-8255. Depressed and mentally ill individuals can also obtain texted assistance by texting TALK to 741741. Those with suicidal thoughts can obtain assistance on the web at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
The Ramirez family would like everyone in the greater Tampa Bay area to know local services for the mentally ill and depressed are available through the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. They can be reached by phone at 211 or online at crisiscenter.com.
Ramirez Lived a Good Life
Ramirez played three seasons in the Rays minor league system. He joined the squad in 2016 after being selected in the 28th round of the draft. Ramirez played college ball at Illinois State, Grayson County College, and the University of Arkansas.
Though Ramirez didn’t play in the big leagues, he was respected as a minor leaguer. The Rays thought so highly of him that they brought him back to the squad to serve as a bullpen catcher, putting him on a career track toward becoming a position coach and possibly even a manager. Ramirez expressed his desire to become a baseball manager at some point down the line, in comments that were made in a 2019 interview with The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino.
The ballplayer’s impact on his teammates and coaches was felt in their response to his sudden death. The Rays manager, Kevin Cash, stated, “Jean was an incredible teammate and friend. He brought so much passion and energy each day to our clubhouse and bullpen, and his love for the Rays and baseball was evident to all who interacted with him. He had the biggest heart and most infectious smile. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Jean will be deeply missed.”
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Current Rays pitcher, Shane McClanahan, chimed in on his former teammate’s death, stating, “Just awful. Jean was an incredible person/friend,” and pitcher Shane McClanahan said. “We are all going to miss him deeply.”