Garciaparra, who signed a minor league contract with the Sox in March in order to retire as a member of the organization, hugged former teammates such as Trot Nixon and said hello to workers at Fenway who remember the eight-plus years he called this a second home.
"I was very fortunate to have experienced great things in this uniform," said Garciaparra, who won two batting titles and hit .323 in Boston. "I’m just writing new chapters. The Red Sox chapter keeps getting written. I retired as a Boston Red Sox. It never leaves you, and it’s always been one of the biggest parts of my heart. This organization and this uniform will stay with me forever."
The six-time All-Star was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2004 and finally returned to Fenway as a player in 2009 as a member of the Oakland A’s.
He talked about how special the ovation was when he stepped to the plate that night, but expects his own night at Fenway to be a little different without having a game to play.
"Now I want to tell [the fans] thank you and that I love them," he said.
Garciaparra was eager to see old teammates, including Nixon, who embraced Garciaparra in front of the Red Sox dugout. And a celebratory dinner with 40 friends and family members last night gave him reminders of how different his life is because of his time in Boston.
"I have lifelong friends because of this uniform and this organization," he said. "We play this game. It’s a wonderful game. But to have those relationships and to build those relationships — that’s what makes it special."
Garciaparra said the memory of the night will rank up there with his first major league hit, the 1999 All-Star Game and the bonds he developed with greats such as Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams.
Finally, before the gates opened to let in some of his admirers, Garciaparra hinted at the possibility of returning to the organization someday.
"I don’t know if this is a closing," he said. "It might be an opening."
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