In his first at bat in the confines of friendly Fenway since July 24, 2005, Nomar Garciaparra got a one minute standing ovation that put the game on hold. Nomar looked like he didn't want the time to end. As Nomar looked around, raising his hand, helmet and applauding the crowd, you could see the lump in his throat as he was trying to hold back the tears. Garciaparra left Boston midway through the 2004 season with the Red Sox en route to their first World Series Championship in 86 years and the crowd showed their appreciation from 7:27 PM-7:28 PM last night.
Leading off the second inning, Nomar grounded out to Kevin Youkilis at third base, pointing to the Red Sox dugout on his way back around, giving them the appreciation for what they have done for him in his early career with Boston. In his second at bat, Nomar grounded an RBI single into left field to get the fourth inning rally going for the A's as they scored three more runs off Smoltz before he recorded his third out with Orlando Cabrera flying out to Lugo at Short. Ending the day 2-for-4, Nomar's RBI single proved to be enough to win the game as Brett Anderson pitched the shutout in a 6-0 win. Cabrera went 1-5 with a solo home run off Takashi Saito in his last at bat in the top of the ninth.
In 2004, Nomar Garciaparra was replaced by Orlando Cabrera at shortstop for the Boston Red Sox as they went on to win the World Series. Dennis Eckersley made the comment that was passing through my mind as well, "Isn't it funny that Orlando Cabrera would also be here as Nomar makes his first appearance back at Fenway". Although Nomar was in the DH spot and Cabrera got the start at short, it was pretty ironic that the player we let go and the player that replaced him in our 2004 World Series season were both back at Fenway playing against us for Oakland.
Trading Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar spoke to the media before the game and was asked, if anything, what he would say to Boston fans since he wasn't given the chance to do so when he left in 2004. "I love them", were the words that Garciaparra was able to piece together as well as "Thank you", before he began to get a bit choked up and explain how emotional it was for him. I remember thinking that Nomar wanted out of Boston, but doing some research, I realized I was wrong. After being traded to the Cubs, Nomar told the Boston Globe:
If it was in my control, I'd still be wearing a Red Sox uniform. That's the place I know, I love, all those fans, I'll always remember. But I'm also going to another great place, a phenomenal city with great tradition as well.
I also read an article by Seth Mnookin from ESPN's Page 2. Seth talked about the rough break up between Nomar and the Red Sox and was in depth of how things really came to when Garciaparra was given the run around while the Sox were offering players to Texas in order to pursue Alex Rodriguez.
Trading Nomar Garciaparra seemed like a huge loss at the time, but coming out of the season with that first World Series championship in 86 years, a flurry of new shortstops and another championship in 2007 shows that the Red Sox organization made the right choice to get Boston where they are today as an every year contender. Nomar has set multiple rookie records for the Boston Red Sox and is greatly appreciated for what he did to help build the franchise up. I guess I was wrong when I thought Nomar wanted to leave us and not the other way around.
Thanks to Paul Keleher for the picture of Nomar Garciaparra's Boston Red Sox jersey.