Without a team this off-season and after 14 years in the big leagues, Red Sox infielder, at least today, Nomar Garciaparra is saying good bye to baseball. And he is doing it gracefully. Many players wait too long to hang up the cleats, and spend year after year taking up roster spots thinking they have good years left. Now on the contrary, I think Garciaparra had some years left, but some people think he may have been a little overused by the Athletics last season which may have caused unusual wear and tear on his 36-year-old body.
The one thing that is certain about Nomar is that he was a great ball player. He grew up in California and led his high school team to league championships in 1990-91 and took MVP honors in ’91. This success continued through college where he played at Georgia Tech where his team, unfortunately, lost to Oklahoma in the College World Series in 1994. While in college he was a first team All-American in 1993 and ’94. On that same team with Nomar was his former Red Sox teammate Jason Varitek where they became the first two Georgia Tech players to be All-Americans twice during their college careers.
After college, Nomar was drafted in the first round in ’94 by Boston and spent three seasons in their minor league system before an August 31st call up during the 1996 season. It didn’t take long for him to get into the swing of things, literally. Against Oakland, Nomar had his first Major League hit; a home run. This would be the first of 229 he had during his career. Nomar was one of the greatest hitting shortstops baseball has seen in my opinion. Over 14 seasons his career batting average was .313 and drove in almost 940 runs.
Since then it’s been over 1400 games played wearing four different uniforms. Obviously his time spent in Boston meant a lot to him. He showed this by signing a minor league contract allowing him to retire wearing a Red Sox jersey.
With Boston, Nomar played over 900 games, was a 5-time All-Star selection, Silver Slugger Award winner and the 1997 AL Rookie of the Year. During his press conference he said he felt at home in a Red Sox uniform and thanked his fans, family, friends and many front office personnel for his time in Boston. He went on to say, “While I had the privilege of playing with other legendary teams, I always saw myself retiring in a Red Sox uniform. Today, I am honored to live that dream.”
Now the only question critics are asking is whether or not Nomar is a Hall-of-Famer. I guess we have five years to discuss that one. I’ll let you talk amongst yourselves.
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