The Ken Ramos Tragedy

His last act was pure cowardice.  He pulled the trigger and ended his life.  It was an easier option than facing the consequences of what he had just done.

Few outside of Pueblo, Colorado, will remember the name Ken Ramos.  His major league career consisted of 14 plate appearances for the Houston Astros.  He has a career .000 batting average and drove in one more RBI than almost everyone who might read this.  Do not let that fool you.  Ken Ramos was a good baseball player.

Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs, Ramos would opt to go to college and hope for a better draft position.  Three years later he signed his name to a Minor League contract with the Cleveland Indians.  His dream was coming true.  In 1990, he made the Carolina League All-Stars and was considered a top prospect.  Ramos was not done being impressive.  Two years later he would explode offensively and the Indians named him their Minor League Player of the Year.

His value went deeper than just his bat.  He was fast, had a great feel for field positioning, and was considered a strong dugout presence.  The Indians had struck gold, but they knew his value was going to come in a trade.  Ramos was trapped in the Minor Leagues because there was nobody in the outfield going anywhere.  In 1994, while chasing a pennant that would never materialize thanks to a player’s strike, the Indians needed a backup catcher.  They traded Ramos to the White Sox for Matt Merullo.

Unimpressed with Ramos, the White Sox placed him on waivers and the Houston Astros bet that they could help develop him into a valuable piece of their farm system.  After three years, the Astros felt they had a role for him: pinch hitter.  Major League pitching overwhelmed Ramos.  In his fourteen at-bats in 1997, he never managed a hit.  It was a deflating moment for a rookie that was known for his batting abilities.  The Astros sent him back down to AAA.  Before ending his career, he had one more moment of baseball greatness to give.  In 1998, alongside Astros legend Lance Berkman, Ramos helped lead the New Orleans Zephyrs to a AAA World Series championship.

It was a great way to end a good Minor League career and he knew his opportunity had come and gone.  There was no future for him in professional baseball, so he retired.  He returned to Pueblo, Colorado, as a hero.  He had made it to the Major Leagues.  They did not care if it was not great.  They had a Major Leaguer living in their town and they loved it.  He became a larger than life figure locally, coaching Pueblo Central High School’s baseball team for several years.  Everything seemed great.  He was married.  He had two amazing children.  He was loved.

Inside the Ramos household looked very different.  His marriage to his wife, Lisa, was beginning to crumble.  It is unclear what events unfolded before the police got a call on May 15, 2016.  Was it twenty years of wondering what could have been?  Was it money problems?  Was it family strife?  Ultimately, this information has been kept private.  What is known is that a few weeks earlier, the police were called after a report of screaming in their house.  There had been no violence, so they left with no arrests, simply reporting it as a domestic dispute.  A few days later, Ken Ramos purchased a handgun.  Neighbors reported being frightened by how he was acting.  Then it happened.

At 3:00 PM on May 15, 2016, a neighbor called the police to report screams.  It does not matter why it happened.  It will all sound like an excuse.  Maybe he was experiencing a lot of inner turmoil about his failures as a baseball player.  Maybe his wife was horrible to him.  Maybe we could never understand how difficult it all must have been.  None of that matters.  When police arrived, they found Lisa Ramos dead with two bullet wounds.  Ken Ramos died a coward.  Instead of facing the consequences, he took his own life.  He is not a sad case of a career gone wrong.  He is not an example of the perverse pressures that professional athletes struggle against.

He is just a murderer.

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