Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Ex-college teammates reunited as Wizards Cesar Ramos and Neil Jamison also pitched for Long Beach State.
By Maria Burns
Pitchers Cesar Ramos and Neil Jamison aren't the first Dirtbags to play for the Wizards, and the way things are going for the Long Beach State baseball program, they likely won't be the last.
Don't worry, in baseball being a Dirtbag, or a former one, is considered a pretty good thing. The Long Beach State baseball team, officially known as the 49ers but affectionately referred to as the Dirtbags throughout college baseball, has been producing professional ballplayers faster than "American Idol" stars are putting out hits.
Former Wizard Paul McAnulty (2003), who was called up to San Diego for the first time earlier this year, is one of 25 Dirtbags to make it to the Show and one of four to get the call this year.
Ramos and Jamison are two of the latest in a long line of players from Long Beach State plowing their ways through the minor leagues.
This past June, the school saw six players go in the first 10 rounds of the draft, including two to the Padres. Ramos was a first-round supplement pick (35th overall), and Jamison was selected in the sixth round.
Ramos could have gone straight to the minors after being drafted by Tampa Bay in the sixth round out of high school but felt he could benefit from playing collegiate ball.
"I knew if I went (to Long Beach State) I'd get a lot better," the left-hander said. "And I did."
He didn't even mind it took a little time for people to realize just how much better. After two years of being somewhat overshadowed by teammate Jered Weaver, Ramos, a left-handed pitcher from Pico Rivera, Calif., took top billing for the Dirtbags this season after Weaver was drafted 12th overall in the 2004 draft.
Ramos went 10-7 with a 2.64 ERA en route to being named a first-team All-American. Jamison set a school record with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 11 saves as the team’s go-to closer.
Now, teammates again in Fort Wayne, the two are picking up where they left off - on and off the field.
Through six starts since joining the team July 25, Ramos has the lowest ERA of any Wizard starting pitcher with a 3.48. Jamison, who came to the Wizards on Aug. 18, has given up just one run in four relief outings.
"They've done great," Wizards pitching coach Steve Webber said. "Cesar had a couple rough outings, probably not up to his standards, but lately he's been pitching very well and Neil has settled right it."
Having a former teammate already here made that a little bit easier.
"It's definitely good to come to a new place where you don't know a lot of people and to have somebody that you've spent three years (with)," Jamison said. "You can ask questions and they fill you in on stuff."
Having former teammates at the next level can be helpful as well, serving to motivate and help put into perspective what it takes to progress.
"It's definitely motivation," Jamison said. "You get done with a game and you go back to the hotel and you're sitting there watching someone you played with for a couple years pitching in the big leagues. It's definitely something to look forward to if we're fortunate enough to get to that point."
"(Marlins starter) Jason Vargas made it in like a year and he was our third pitcher (in 2004)," Ramos said. "That's a motivation to push me to get there as soon as I can. Watching those guys and being with them and playing with them at the same level kind of pushes you and you believe in yourself that you can actually go forth."
If the successes of Weaver and Vargas are any indication of what their former teammates can expect, the pitchers best keep their bags packed.
Weaver was promoted this summer to the Angels' Class AA Arkansas affiliate, while Vargas spent just about a year in the minor leagues before being called up to the Marlins.
Preparing its players to succeed at that next level is the goal of the Long Beach State baseball program.
"It's one of those things that you're sitting there saying that you hope that it's a little further along (than other players)," Dirtbag pitching coach Troy Buckley said. "My goal would be from the pitching standpoint is for them to say, you know what I've done all this. ... I hope that they've experienced most things already here, through our games but more through our communication and the situations we put them through so the first time we don't experience it is out when they’re trying to make it to the big leagues."
With the way Ramos and Jamison are pitching for the Wizards, it looks like Buckley's been successful.
The origin of the Dirtbags
- The nickname refers to the all-out style of play Long Beach State has become known for, but was born out of the days when the team lacked its own facilities and practiced on an all-dirt field. After practice, the team's infielders would be covered in dirt and, from that, the nickname came to be.