Believe it or not, it's been five years since Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein shocked the baseball world and traded away fan favorite and five-time All-Star Nomar Garciaparra on the July 31st deadline in 2004.
I specifically remember that dreadful day.
I was at work all day with no access to a computer or blackberry and by the time I had gotten home, my friend left me a voice message on my cell phone. At the same time, I turned on the television, but ended up hearing the horrific news first on my phone. Stunned and shocked, I broke out into tears.
Garciaparra was traded as part of a blockbuster four-team deal involving the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos, and Minnesota Twins.
Boston sent him along with Single-A outfield prospect Matt Murton to the Cubs and received Expos shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins.
My friend thought I already knew about it because I'm always on top of breaking Sox news, but for some reason I wasn't that day. July 31, 2004 was easily one of the worst days being a Red Sox fan in my young life. Nomar was, and still is, my favorite Red Sox of all-time.
I did not understand it. I eventually accepted it. Even till this day, if it had to be done all over again, I would have agreed with Epstein's decision. Let's face it, Red Sox Nation; if Epstein didn't make the trade, the Sox would not have won the World Series in 2004.
Since then, Garciaparra has not come back to face the Red Sox because he's been on two National League clubs—Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier this season, Boston made the trip up to Oakland, Garciaparra's new home team.
Tonight, Nomar—as Sox fans always tended to use his first name rather than his last—returns to the Fenway Faithful as a member of the Athletics for the first time in five years.
I expect to see countless Garciaparra jerseys in the stands and I also expect him to receive a massive standing ovation, in which he rightfully deserves. Despite being on the Sox for just about nine seasons, he very well goes down on the list as one of the best team players of all-time. And to back up my statement, I give you his resume:
1997 American League Rookie of the Year
1997 Silver Slugger Award
Hit three home runs on his birthday (2002)
Had two grand slams and a home run on May 10, 1999 vs. Seattle Mariners
1999 Batting Title (.357)
2000 Batting Title (.372)
Major League Records
Most RBIs by lead-off hitter: 98 (1997)
Most home runs by a rookie: 30
Most doubles in a season by a shortstop: 56
American League Records
Longest hitting streak by a rookie: 30 games
Red Sox Records
Most totals bases by a rookie: 365
Most hits by a rookie: 209
Most stolen bases by a rookie shortstop: 22
Most RBIs in one game (tie): 10 May 10, 1999 vs. Seattle Mariners
Ever since his wrist injury in 2001, Garciaparra hasn't been the same player. He was always injury-prone, which pretty much killed his "amazingness" at the plate and on the diamond. Despite that, he'll always be remembered as a Red Sox great.
Welcome back, Nomar. You'll always be our number one shortstop in our hearts.