I can still vividly remember Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton hugging and laughing after learning they had been traded to the Chicago Cubs. The announcement came moments after the Pirates were beaten 2-0 by the Houston Astros at PNC Park. And while the rest of their teammates looked on in stunned silence, Ramirez and Lofton acted like they had just won the lottery. Which, in a way, they had. They were leaving a team that was 9.5 games out of first place and en route to an 11th consecutive losing season for a team that, although sitting in third place and 5.5 games out, was intent on making a run for the playoffs. And the Cubs did, winning the division on the final weekend of the regular season (against — who else — the Pirates) and reaching the NLCS before the infamous Game 6, Steve Bartman-fueled collapse.So Ramirez (and center fielder Kenny Lofton, whom the Pirates had signed as a 36-year-old free agent for $1.025 million before the 2003 season) left what was arguably the worst franchise in baseball for arguably the most snakebit one. Lofton played only 56 games in Chicago before departing as a free agent to the Yankees over the winter, but Ramirez was the Cubs' third baseman from the time of the trade through 2011, hitting 239 home runs as a Cub, sixth on the club's all-time list. In return, the Pirates got pitcher Matt Bruback, who never made it out of the minors, utility player Jose Hernandez, who batted .223 as Ramriez's replacement and was released, and second/third baseman Bobby Hill, who batted .267 with an okay .352 on base percentage but no power in 185 games in Pittsburgh. So, yeah, it was a terrible trade, driven by economics (the arbitration-eligible Ramirez's salary went from $3 million in 2003 to $6 million in 2004).
Pittsburgh's PNC Park opened in 2001, which was the 23 year old Ramirez's first season has a full-time regular. Though the ballpark was his home field for only two and a half seasons, he's seventh on the all time home run list for PNC Park:
- Ramirez hit 29 of his homers at PNC as a Pirate, 11 as a Cub, and 5 as a Brewer. LaRoche hit three as a National and two as a Brave; Giles hit two as a Padre. They are the only hitters in the top 10 who didn't hit all their PNC Park homers as a Pirate.
- Are Ramirez's 16 homers as a visitor the most in PNC Park history? Not even close: Albert Pujols had 29. His lifetime splits in Pittsburgh: 89 games, 354 at bats, 32 doubles, 29 homers, .376 batting average, .452 on base percentage, .718 slugging percentage.
- Ramirez also ranks 12th in PNC Park games played, ninth in at bats, 13th in runs scored, eighth in hits, 11th in doubles, and sixth in RBI. This, for a guy who called the park home only two and a half seasons. It says something about both his excellence and the, let's say, fluidity of the Pirates' roster over the past 15 years.
- McCutchen's in only his seventh season, but he's already No. 1 all time at runs, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, caught stealing, walks, and total bases at PNC Park.