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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boston class act

Nomar Garciaparra, or better known as “Nomah,” has announced his retirement from the game of baseball. Once considered the face of Boston and tabbed as the man who would resurrect Red Sox Nation, has continued to stay strong through many ups and downs throughout his career.

As a prized prospect of the Boston Red Sox, the sky was the limit for this uniquely gifted player. As a shortstop, Garciaparra could hit, and hit for power. He broke into the majors in 1996, but made his impact felt the following year winning the American League Rookie of the Year and the Silver Slugger award. Garciaparra was often compared to his position counterparts Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. This threesome was referred to as the “Holy Trinity of Shortstops.”

Over the next six seasons, Garciaparra would earn the right to be considered one of the best hitters in baseball. He would go on to win two batting titles and be named to six All-Star teams. But then, the unspeakable happened during the 2004 season.

Because of an erratic arm at shortstop and free agency looming following the season, new general manager Theo Epstein felt that a change was needed. Boston traded their star to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. This was very difficult for Garciaparra, but he understood the business of baseball.

That same year, Boston accomplished the unthinkable by overcoming a 3-0 game deficit in the American League Championship Series to defeat the New York Yankees. With the “Nation” on their side, Boston went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Since Garciaparra started the season with with the Red Sox and for all he had done for the organization, the team recognized him with a World Series ring.

The following years didn’t get much better for the once great shortstop. Due to injuries, his play deteriorated and his future Hall of Fame plaque was no more. He would spend the next five seasons as a utility player with the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics.

Although his Hall of Fame career may have been cut short because of injuries, Nomar Garciaparra is a class act. In many ways, he is similar to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Red Sox Nation hates the Yankees, but they have the utmost respect for Jeter and the manner in which he plays the game. The same is true about Garciaparra, who throughout his tenure with Boston, was a Yankee killer. Despite playing for the enemy, his all out, hard nose play has earned the New York fans respect. Players like Garciaparra and Jeter don’t come around too often and are truly what makes baseball so special.

Garciaparra can now find time to spend with his family; he is married to soccer legend Mia Hamm and has two daughters. He will also begin a new career as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. I look forward to listening to his insight for years to come.

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