BOSTON — Nomar Garciaparra earned one World Series ring during his 14-year Major League Baseball career. He wears it occasionally, and he’ll forever be grateful for obtaining such a special memento.
But there’s nothing conventional about Garciaparra’s piece of championship jewelry.
Garciaparra was traded by the Red Sox to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2004, roughly three months before Boston captured its first World Series title in 86 years. It was a disappointing day for the former Red Sox shortstop, who had become a fan favorite in his eight-plus seasons with the organization. But he still supported his former team and cherished the club’s championship success despite witnessing it from afar.
“It was obviously devastating being traded, there’s no question about that. But I was happy for them winning the World Series,” Garciaparra said Thursday before being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame at Fenway Park. “For me, my teammates made me feel a part of it, which was great, and that’s what I was grateful for. When they were going through the playoffs, I was getting calls from them when they were on the bus, and they were like, ‘Hey, did you see that? You see what we’re doing?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And they would say, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about you.’ I’m like, ‘I’m watching.’”
Watching the World Series represented a stark contrast from Garciaparra’s norm. The six-time All-Star typically chose not to watch the Fall Classic because he wanted to be playing — rather than watching — on baseball’s grandest stage. According to Garciaparra, he only watched two World Series during his playing days: the 2000 Subway Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets — his college teammate/roommate Jay Payton was playing for the Mets — and the Red Sox’s 2004 showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I was excited. The thrill for me about them winning in ’04 was when you come here and you play for the Red Sox, as a player, you dream of playing in the World Series, you want to win a World Series,” Garciaparra said. “But I realized here that the World Series is bigger than you. It was about for these people and these fans and the tradition here, what it meant. And I’m glad that in ’04 that it was finally accomplished because these great fans deserved it.”
Garciaparra was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round in 1994. He broke into the majors in 1996 and earned American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1997. He then won back-to-back batting titles in 1999 and 2000 en route to carving out an impressive career that never quite reached the same heights elsewhere that it did in Boston.
“I have a lot of great memories, and that’s what I’m eternally grateful for. We could talk for hours if I just try to list all the ones,” A reflective Garciaparra said Thursday. “But I’ll tell ya, I just loved going out there and playing in front of the fans. The Red Sox Nation, that’s become the known, it is true. For me, I’m fortunate to be inducted into a Nation. And that’s what I’m grateful for.”
Garciaparra wasn’t able to celebrate the Red Sox’s curse-breaking World Series on the field in St. Louis in 2004, but he certainly enjoyed plenty of success in Boston and helped pave the way for future triumphs. Now, Nomar is a Red Sox Hall of Famer.
That has a nice ring to it.
Photo via Twitter/@BostonGlobe