BOSTON -- To Manny Ramirez, Dodgers left fielder and former Boston Red Sox slugger, who in a few days is scheduled to revisit Fenway Park for the first time since he left in 2008:
From Chuck White of Nashua, N.H., a lifelong Sox fan: "Welcome back."
From Josh Mason of Auburn, Mass., another Sox lifer: "You're not welcome here."
From Frank Cwalina, who lives a couple of hours north of Philadelphia: "You brought titles to Boston that had been a long time coming."
From Bob Harvey of Westbrook, Maine: "The way you exited ... you set a bad example for the kids."
But wait. Those comments might give the impression that the Red Sox Nation is split on the topic.
It is not.
Never mind Ramirez's eight All-Star appearances in 7 1/2 seasons in Boston, or the two World Series titles he helped bring. More fresh in the minds of fans are the scuffles, phantom injuries and lack of hustle that marked his final days with the team.
"People don't forget," Harvey says.
Not here, especially. The fervent Fenway Faithful are perhaps the most knowledgeable fans in professional sports, with born-into-it devotion that runs as deep and long and strong as New England winters.
Then there is the timing of it. Consider that Friday's homecoming could come the day following an NBA Finals Game 7 between Boston's Celtics and the Lakers, any anti-Manny sentiment only exacerbated by beat-L.A. residue from the most intense rivalry in professional basketball.
So when the Ramirez steps into the batter's box at The Chapel on Friday, the forecast calls for scattered cheers with downpours of jeers.
Fenway has played host to this type of hero/villain return before. Last year, Nomar Garciaparra, a Red Sox great who was much beloved for most of his 8 1/2 seasons but whose relationship with the team soured toward the end, returned to Boston as a member of the Oakland Athletics.
He received a standing ovation.
But in that case, fans had been given five years to get over Garciaparra's outgoing rift with management -- caused when he found out the Red Sox had been flirting with the idea of acquiring Alex Rodriguez to replace him at shortstop.
"Everybody was happy to have him come back," Sox lifer Mason says of Garciaparra. "But with Manny, he won't get that. He'll get booed constantly."
Boston Mayor Tom Menino isn't so sure. "We have fair fans," he says of the Sox faithful.
Menino recalled that when Ramirez came to Boston from Cleveland, he stood out as a player who would sign autographs for fans before games. "Somehow," the mayor laments, "he changed."
The beginning of the end for Ramirez started with a dugout spat he had with teammate Kevin Youkilis. It worsened when he pushed down 64-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick during a clubhouse dispute over a ticket allotment.
After that, Ramirez started to miss games because of what he said was a knee injury. And when MRI exams on both his knees showed nothing, the Red Sox made sure the media knew about it.
"They're tired of me, I'm tired of them," Ramirez said as the situation worsened. "They don't deserve me."
Mason says Ramirez this weekend will get exactly what he deserves. "If he didn't do that at the end, he would be very welcome here and we'd welcome him with open arms," the fan says. "But with what he did, there's no way."
Red Sox Manager Terry Francona wouldn't predict how the fans would treat Ramirez, and catcher Jason Varitek sidestepped the issue by saying he would remember his former teammate simply as "one of the best right-handed hitters to play the game." Veteran Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says Ramirez was "one of the hardest-working players in baseball" and "deserves an ovation pretty much every at-bat."
Ortiz's reasoning is that through all the controversy -- some of which came to be known as "Manny being Manny" -- Ramirez still did a lot for the Red Sox. After all, he did hit .312 with 274 home runs and 868 runs batted in over 1,083 games with Boston.
"Manny was World Series MVP in 2004, the most important one for this team," Ortiz says of the title that ended the team's 86-year championship drought.
"Cleveland missed Manny when he left. We missed Manny when he left. The Dodgers are going to miss Manny when he leaves. You're talking about one of the greatest hitters of all time."
Ortiz also had a warning for Red Sox fans who might be planning to give Ramirez a hard time. "That might make him mad and go deep," he says, laughing. "Don't boo him."
For some old-timers, this weekend's games stir memories of a long-ago love-hate relationship between Red Sox fans and another highly productive yet controversial left fielder.
It was nearly 50 years ago -- on Sept. 28, 1960 -- when Ted Williams played his final game at Fenway at a time when he wasn't on the best of terms with the city of Boston.
Wrote John Updike in the iconic essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu": "The affair between Boston and Ted Williams has been no mere summer romance; it has been a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories."
Before the game, Williams told the fans his time in Boston had been "the greatest thing in my life," and in his final at-bat, he hit a home run.
But as he rounded the bases, Williams didn't tip his cap. And as the crowd chanted while he went into the dugout, he did not come out to acknowledge them.
"He ran as he always ran out home runs -- hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of," Updike wrote.
Mary Lee of Bucksport, Maine, remembers that game. She was there.
"I sat right underneath the screen behind the catcher," she says. "I could hear the umpire.
"The Splinter hit a home run. He was The Man. The Man, period."
She doesn't feel the same about Ramirez.
"Don't come. You're a baby. Grow up, Manny," she advises. "Act like a man and a ballplayer."