Former baseball player slides home

By Carlos Alvarez

Head varsity baseball coach at Roosevelt High School and former East Los Angeles College baseball standout Ramon Ruiz continues to share his experience of what it takes to make it to the major leagues.

“I have always taken pride in the community and try to give back anyway I can.  It’s an honor to coach at my high school alma mater,” Ruiz said. Upon graduating from Roosevelt High School and being named L.A. Times player of the year in 1992-93, he received minimal interest from top universities so he decided to stay local and attend ELAC. “I could have gone to a better baseball program school like El Camino, but I knew if I was going to make it, I was going to put ELAC’s name out there,” Ruiz said, of why he chose to attend ELAC.

He became a constant threat in the Husky lineup with his consistent hitting for average and some home run power. “I love Ramon. He’s the best player we ever had,” said Al Cone, who was Ruiz’s former head coach. According to Ruiz, his days in ELAC really changed his views in education and helped him think about life outside of baseball.

“ELAC didn’t really prepare me baseball wise, but I have to thank Cone for pushing me with my studies and helping me see the many opportunities out there,” Ruiz said. After not receiving much interest from universities, Ruiz took a chance and traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to play in a summer professional baseball league. “I have never been away from East Los Angeles, but I had no scholarship offers, so I had to take a chance and thank God I did,” Ruiz said, after finishing his two- year eligibility at ELAC.

Florida International University coaches were impressed with Ruiz’s potent power and great plate discipline as he posted a .300 batting average with six home runs during the summer. Ruiz received a full ride scholarship to play Division I baseball for FIU, which he said was a dream come true. “Coming out of ELAC and going across the country was a culture shock, but it was something I was ready for,” Ruiz said.

“I can’t emphasize the way Cone treated me.  He treated me with respect and prepared me when it came to school,” Ruiz said, when asked about how well his studies continued at FIU. Ruiz was not only dominating in the field, but he continued to pursue a career in criminal justice. “I have always felt that I could play pro ball, but finishing school was my number one priority,” Ruiz said.

At FIU he continued his impressive offensive statistics producing double figures in home runs from 1996-97. “The uncertainty was big. I really thought I was going to get drafted by the Reds or White Sox. When they didn’t, I had no idea what to do,” Ruiz said. His uncertainty quickly changed when his hometown team, the Dodgers, signed him in 1997 out of the Mexican pro league.

“I have always stayed humble and never forgot where I came from. To be drafted by the Dodgers was the cherry on top,” Ruiz said. Ruiz continued to pursue his dream of playing in the major leagues, but his dream came to a shocking end when he was released from the Dodgers. “It was shocking. I was 25 and I really thought I was part of their long term plans, but I collected my thoughts and moved on to the next phase in my life,” Ruiz said.

“Going back to ELAC and having those doors open for me really makes me think that I was more than just an ex player,” Ruiz said. “It was an easy transition for me playing pro ball and coming back to coach student-athletes who wanted to get where I had been,” Ruiz said. According to Ruiz, ELAC helped him find his true passion of coaching and teaching baseball and the many opportunities it provides student-athletes.

After finishing his degree in criminal justice in 2003, he left the baseball staff to pursue a Masters degree. In 2009, Roosevelt High School came calling for his services to become head varsity baseball coach and he gladly accepted. “It was a chance to put my name out there. I was going to be in charge and I know it’s the beginning of something bigger,” Ruiz said.

However, Ruiz still hopes to return to ELAC. “I hope to one day get the opportunity to be part of the Husky family. Maybe when Hines moves on I will be first in line for the head coaching job,” Ruiz said.

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