Notice the five H's? That's a little tribute to Nomar Garciaparra, who retired today as a member of the Boston Red Sox. I have to write something about Nomar for the simple reason that he was one of a kind. It's hard to really understand how big he was unless you were in Boston especially during his golden age of 1997-2000. He unanimous won Rookie of the Year. He won two batting titles. He had a 30 game hit streak. He almost won the MVP in 1998 (finished second). The guy was heading to the hall of fame. Maybe even more important at the time, the guy was a legend and the biggest athlete in Boston. He made Sox fans forget about Mo Vaughn and Roger Clemens leaving. He quickly became a fan favorite with his unorthodox throwing style, unusual name, and unique batting approach. Remember that routine? His name was perfect for Boston. Nomah was the second coming of Ted Williams. Even Ted Williams himself loved him.
Garciaparra infamously rejected a 4 year, 60 million deal, which in hindsight was probably the dumbest thing he ever did. The days of everyone loving Nomar were ending. Sox fans were getting impatient too. Remember this is before the World Series win when life was different.
I have to say that him leaving Boston in 2004 really was a sad day for me. I thought he was a Sox player for life. He was a rare breed of a guy that came up from the minors and developed into a star. Everything fell apart though after 2001 with injuries and bad relationships with the media.
He was dealt on July 31, 2004 to the Chicago Cubs and was never the same player. Injuries continued to plague him and it was kind of sad. I always talk to my friend about how he had such a sad career in a sense. It started with so much hope and promise, but it ended the exact opposite. He watched his former team win the World Series months after he was traded. His play declined so much that he ended up switching positions to first base and eventually third. He was playing for one and two year deals since that was the best he could do. The hall of fame talk was now a joke. His career was somewhat of a joke as well considering how great he was in his early years.
When he came back to Boston in 2009, wounds had healed and it was pretty special to see him get a standing ovation. It was somewhat fitting, but you have to wonder what could have been? What if he never got hurt? What if he could have handled Boston and stayed there for his whole career? Would have the Sox ever won the World Series with him on the roster? I don't know, but part of me wishes we could have found out.
Nomah was special and I'm glad that I got to see him play at Fenway. Thanks for the memories...