WASHINGTON — Standing broad at 6-0, 230 pounds, Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been known for years as “the Buffalo.” It has inspired creative giveaways in the Nationals farm system and formal buffalo pictures, and generally become synonymous with the man himself.
The nickname is so fitting that the story behind the nickname has largely gone untold, at least until now.
“I got that nickname by Ian Desmond,” Ramos said. “It was one day at the stadium and he said to me, ‘Hey, you get a lot of hits (foul tips, collisions, etc.) every day behind the plate and you never go out of the game. You stay for the whole game. You’re a big man. You’re like a buffalo!'”
Seems logical. But is that the real story?
The only previous explanation offered for his nickname would seem to contradict Ramos’ story.
MLB.com writer Bill Ladson mentioned in 2013 that Ramos was nicknamed by then Nationals batting coach Rick Eckstein in 2012, and the nickname seemed to be somewhat disparaging in nature:
Last season, Eckstein gave Ramos the nickname Buffalo. Now Ramos calls himself Bison because of the weight he lost before the season started.
“He is definitely in tip-top shape,” Eckstein said. “Wilson has worked so hard this offseason to get back and be ready to go this spring. He has impressed everyone with his level of conditioning. He was on a strenuous program to be ready for the season. … He hasn’t skipped a beat. It’s great to see.”
Whether he earned the nickname as an unstoppable backstop or a portly hitter, it adequately describes the man and his journey to the nation’s capital.
Ramos joined the Nationals organization near the 2010 trade deadline, when he was sent from Minnesota in exchange for veteran reliever Matt Capps. In that regard, he did migrate to D.C. from the upper Great Plains.
Ever since, he has helped supply Twitter gold to @Nationals fans everywhere:
Listen for his full interview with The Junkies: