Nomar Garciaparra

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Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar2002.jpg
Garciaparra with the Red Sox in 2002.
Shortstop
Born: (1973-07-23) July 23, 1973 (age 41)
Whittier, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 31, 1996 for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 2009 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average .313
Home runs 229
Runs batted in 936
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Anthony Nomar Garciaparra (/ˈnmɑr ɡɑrˌsəˈpɑrə/; born July 23, 1973) is a former American Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst. After playing parts of nine seasons as an All-Star shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, he played for the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Chicago Cubs. He is one of 13 players in Major League history to hit two grand slams during a single game, and the only player to achieve the feat at his home stadium.

Early years[edit]

Garciaparra, who is of Mexican-American descent, was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 5th round of the 1991 draft, but did not sign. Garciaparra attended St.John Bosco in Bellflower California

Garciaparra attended Georgia Tech, where he helped the Yellow Jackets reach the College World Series title game in 1994 (they would lose to Oklahoma). Future Boston teammate Jason Varitek was also a member of that team. He was an Atlantic Coast Conference All-Star and a first team All-American twice in 1993–94.

Major League Baseball career[edit]

Garciaparra is a six-time All-Star (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006). In 2001, he suffered a wrist injury, the first in a series of significant injuries that plagued the remainder of his career.

Boston Red Sox (1994–2004)[edit]

Garciaparra was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1994 following a successful career at Georgia Tech. He played in the Red Sox minor league system for three years (1994 – Sarasota, 1995 – Trenton, 1996 – Pawtucket).

He made his Major League debut on August 31, 1996, as a defensive replacement against Oakland. His first Major League hit was a home run off Oakland pitcher John Wasdin on September 1. Garciaparra is known for his idiosyncratic tics when batting. This habit includes an elaborate routine of batting glove adjustments and alternating toe taps on the ground prior to an ensuing pitch.[1]

At the time, Boston's starting shortstop was John Valentin, who finished ninth in MVP voting in 1995. By late 1996, Nomar won the job. Garciaparra's talent was enough to displace Valentin, who was moved to second base (then third base) to make room for young Garciaparra, who batted .241 with 4 home runs, 16 RBI, and 5 stolen bases in his initial stint with the club near the end of 1996. As a rookie in 1997, he hit 30 home runs, 209 base hits (a Red Sox rookie record), and drove in 98 runs, setting a new MLB record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter and most homers by a rookie shortstop.[2] His 30-game hitting streak set an A.L. rookie record.[3] He was named Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote, competed in the Home Run Derby, and finished eighth in MVP voting. He also won the immediate admiration of Red Sox fans, who referred to him in Boston accents as "NO-mah!". His popularity in New England was reflected in the Saturday Night Live "The Boston Teens" sketches, where Jimmy Fallon's character Pat Sullivan always wore a Garciaparra T-shirt and would repeatedly reference his admiration for him. Garciaparra even appeared in one of the sketches, where he was introduced as the boyfriend of Sully's sister (played by guest host Kate Hudson).

He finished with 35 home runs and 122 RBI in 1998, and placed as the runner-up for AL MVP. Garciaparra then led the American League in batting average for the next two years, hitting .357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000, finishing in the top ten in MVP voting both years. He is one of the few right-handed batters to win consecutive batting titles, and the first since Joe DiMaggio. His .372 average is the highest batting average by a right hander in MLB history. He hit safely and scored a run in the first five games of his post-season career (1998–99), and is joined by Ian Kinsler (2010) as the only other player to start his post-season career in that manner.[4]

In February 2001, Garciaparra appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with the headline "A Cut Above... baseball's toughest out". The week after the issue hit newsstands, Garciaparra suffered a wrist injury that would ruin his season and alter the trajectory of his career. He recovered by the start of the 2002 season and drove in 120 runs while hitting a league-leading 56 doubles. However, he had a difficult time playing as strongly defensively as before, and his batting average dipped substantially, though it was still an excellent .310.

End of Garciaparra era[edit]

Before the 2002 season, a new ownership group purchased the Red Sox. The baseball operations staff, led by Theo Epstein, stressed on-base percentage on offense and strong defense, two areas where Garciaparra was about to decline precipitously from his pre-2001 levels. Still, Garciaparra recovered from an injury-filled 2001 season to bat .310 with 24 home runs and 120 RBIs in 2002. The star shortstop was up for a contract extension following the 2004 season and hoped for a deal before that deadline. Still considered one of the best shortstops in baseball, he hoped to receive salaries similar to peers Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

In 2003, Garciaparra had a good season in which he was second in the majors in triples, fifth in the AL in hits, and second in the AL in runs scored. Unfortunately, a September slump caused his batting average to dip to .301. He followed that with a poor post-season, contributing zero home runs, one RBI and ten strikeouts in 12 games against the Oakland Athletics and rival Yankees, who eliminated the Red Sox in a seven-game series.

Meanwhile, new stars and cult heroes, led by David Ortiz and Kevin Millar, began to emerge in Boston. Millar convinced almost all players on the roster other than Johnny Damon and Garciaparra (whose wedding with Mia Hamm followed the season) to shave their heads.

After the 2003 season, Red Sox management explored trading Manny Ramírez to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. However, the MLB Players' Union objected to Rodriguez's willingness to sacrifice a huge amount of his $250 million contract to facilitate a deal to Boston, and the New York Yankees then struck a deal with Texas to bring A-Rod (who gave up $14 million with union approval) to their team. The Red Sox then had covert trade talks involving Nomar with the Chicago White Sox, but the subsequent agreement to trade Garciaparra and other for a package centered around Magglio Ordóñez quickly became public. Garciaparra thus returned to Boston for the start of the 2004 season in the final year of a contract signed in 1997, and it quickly became clear that he was enraged with the team and would not return to Boston after the season. After Boston was beaten soundly by the Yankees in a July series in New York, Boston decided to trade away Garciaparra.

Chicago Cubs[edit]

Garciaparra with the Cubs in 2005 spring training

On July 31, 2004 (the MLB trading deadline), Garciaparra was the key player involved in a four-team deal that sent Nomar and Matt Murton to the wild card leading Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox received Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos and Doug Mientkiewicz from the Minnesota Twins. Nomar expressed his appreciation to Red Sox fans in a speech to media, and left for the Windy City. At first, Garciaparra was assigned jersey number 8, because Cub catcher Michael Barrett wore number 5. A few days later, they switched numbers. The Cubs led the wild card until mid-September, but finished the 2004 season with 89 wins and out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Red Sox finally overcame the Yankees en route to a World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, after which Nomar's former teammates voted to give him a World Series ring. Curt Schilling noted that if not for Nomar, the Sox might not have been in a position to win at all.

In the 2005 season, a torn left groin forced him onto the disabled list for more than three months. Garciaparra resumed play on August 5, 2005. Because Cubs regular third baseman Aramis Ramírez was on the disabled list for the last few weeks of the 2005 season, he volunteered to temporarily play third base, and Cub skipper Dusty Baker agreed. Aside from his first game in the Majors, in which he played second base, he had played shortstop in all of his other Major League games up to that point in his career.

Los Angeles Dodgers[edit]

In 2006, Nomar returned to his home town, signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also with the team were former Red Sox players Bill Mueller, Derek Lowe, and manager Grady Little.

While facing the New York Mets on June 6, 2006, Nomar hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he ever saw against former teammate and fellow Boston icon Pedro Martínez. Coincidentally, Derek Lowe was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers that day.

Though he was able to retain his original jersey number (5), he moved to first base, while the Dodgers signed Rafael Furcal from the Atlanta Braves to step in for the recovering César Izturis at short. Healthy for the first extended period of time since 2003, he regained his offensive stroke, evidenced by a .370 batting average at one point, and by his remaining constantly productive. By the MLB All-Star Break, Nomar was tied with Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez for the lead among all MLB infielders and all NL batters with a .358 batting average, to go along with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs, carrying a 21-game hitting streak into the break. The .362 average he held at the 2006 All-Star break was the second highest by a Dodger since they moved into Dodger Stadium in 1962 with the only higher mark being held by Mike Piazza.

Garciaparra with the Dodgers in 2008

He adjusted well to playing first base, having committed only 1 error through 588.2 innings played, and had a .998 fielding percentage. He also was elected to the 2006 NL All-Star Team as the National League All-Star Final Vote winner, receiving around six million votes. It was his sixth trip to the Midsummer Classic, and his first as a first baseman and as a Dodger. His .358 batting average steadily declined to just a hair over .300 by the end of the season. Despite Garciaparra's late season slump and injuries, Garciaparra did prevail in the clutch for the Dodgers during their playoff race with two walk-off home runs. The first capped off one of the most amazing games of the season on September 18, when the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres to tie the game. After the Padres scored a run in the tenth inning, Nomar hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth to win the game 11–10.[5] Six days later on September 24, Garciaparra hit a walk-off grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks to give the Dodgers a 5–1 victory with one week left in the regular season. Garciaparra's walk-off home run against Arizona propelled the Dodgers to win their last seven games of the regular season, helping the Dodgers to make the playoffs.

On October 7, Garciaparra was named the National League's Comeback Player of the Year for 2006. He received 72,054 votes.

On November 20, 2006, the Dodgers re-signed Garciaparra to a 2-year contract worth $18.5 million, keeping him with the team through the 2008 season.

On June 25, 2007, Garciaparra volunteered to move from first to third base in order to make room for rookie James Loney.[6]

During 2008 spring training Garciaparra suffered a microfracture on his hand after a hit-by-pitch. This forced him to start the 2008 MLB season on the DL. Rookie Blake DeWitt held the job in the meantime. On April 16, he started his first game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, only to suffer a strained left calf muscle 9 days later resulting in another trip to the DL.[7] He returned July, 4th, 2008 playing shortstop for the first time since 2005.

Garciaparra was placed on the DL on August 1, 2008, solely to make room for Manny Ramirez, who had been acquired in a trade. He had sprained his knee in a contest against the Washington Nationals on a play in which Loney threw the ball into the dirt, forcing Garciaparra, who was covering third base, to go to his knees to save the ball, allowing Lastings Milledge to slide into him spikes first.

Oakland Athletics[edit]

On March 6, 2009, Garciaparra signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Athletics.[8]

With the acquisition of Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies in the off-season, Nomar was not granted his accustomed number 5, instead wearing number 1. Immediately after Holliday's trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, Eric Patterson was called up and then given number 5. Garciaparra and Patterson subsequently switched numbers.

On July 6, 2009, Garciaparra returned to Fenway Park for the first time since being traded by the Red Sox in 2004. Before the game he was met with tremendous support from the fans, press, and his former teammates. Before he stepped up to the plate for his first at bat, he was met by a lengthy standing ovation from the fans at Fenway, to which he tipped his cap and graciously clapped along with them. After grounding out, when passing the Red Sox dugout, he thanked his former team. In his second at bat, Garciaparra got the game's first RBI to yet another lengthy applause. Garciaparra was also present with the Athletics to see the Red Sox retire Jim Rice's number. Rice was Garciaparra's hitting coach in the early part of his career in Boston.

Retirement[edit]

On March 10, 2010, Garciaparra signed a one-day contract with the Boston Red Sox to enable him to retire as a member of the Red Sox. Garciaparra took a position at ESPN, contributing analysis for the program Baseball Tonight as well as select Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts.[9] He has also been one of the lead analysts on ESPN's coverage of the College World Series. In 2011, he contributed analysis for ESPN's coverage of the Little League World Series telecasts.

On May 5, 2010, the Red Sox hosted "Nomar Garciaparra Night", honoring Garciaparra before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was given two official seats from Fenway by Johnny Pesky, one bearing Garciaparra's own number 5, and the other bearing Pesky's number 6.

Garciaparra threw out the first pitch on Nomar Day to his former teammate Jason Varitek with his signature off-balance sidearm throw.[10]

On December 2, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Garciaparra would be part of their broadcast team beginning with the 2014 season. He served as a pre-and-post game analyst for the Dodgers' telecasts on SportsNet LA,[11] and also teamed with Rick Monday to call most of the team's road games on KLAC and the Dodgers Radio Network. However, a few months into the season he was pulled from the radio broadcasts and added to the Television crew, working with Charley Steiner and Orel Hershiser on road games.

On Wednesday, February 5, 2014 it was announced that Garciaparra would be inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, along with former pitchers Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens and longtime radio announcer Joe Castiglione.[12]

Personal life[edit]

On November 22, 2003, Garciaparra married Olympian and World Cup Champion soccer star Mia Hamm. The couple has twin girls, Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline, who were born on March 27, 2007, in Los Angeles. The couple also welcomed their first son named Garrett Anthony born in January 2012.[13]

Both he and Mia Hamm were on Olympic teams in their respective sports. Garciaparra was on the 1992 Olympic baseball team, and Hamm was on the 1996, 2000, and 2004 women's Olympic soccer teams.

Garciaparra is the cousin of Arturo Javier Ledesma, a Mexican soccer player who currently plays for Correcaminos UAT in the Ascenso MX. His uncle is legendary Mexican soccer goalkeeper, Javier "Zully" Ledesma. His brother, Michael Garciaparra, is a baseball player, playing second base for the triple-A Round Rock Express.

On the Kate Hudson/Radiohead episode on season 26 of Saturday Night Live, Garciaparra cameoed in a "Boston Teens" sketch.

On October 7, 2005, Garciaparra and his uncle Victor Garciaparra were alerted to the screams of two women who had fallen into Boston Harbor outside his condominium. One of the women sustained injuries to her head after hitting the pier on her way in. Garciaparra quickly jumped into the harbor and saved both women, who were later taken to the hospital.[14]

Name[edit]

Garciaparra's given first name is Anthony, but he is known by his middle name, Nomar. The name Nomar comes from Garciaparra's father's name Ramon. Nomar is "Ramon" spelled backwards.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Miller (September 30, 2006). "Batter Up! Not So Fast ...". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ Blum, Ronald (November 4, 1997). "GARCIAPARRA NO SURPRISE AS AL'S TOP ROOKIE". Rocky Mountain News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Braves Romp and Halt Garciaparra's Streak". The New York Times. August 31, 1997. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ Caplan, Jeff (October 12, 2010). "As others slump, Ian Kinsler rakes". ESPN. Retrieved October 13, 2010. 
  5. ^ http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap?gid=260918119
  6. ^ "Notes: Nomar moving to third base – Dodgers make room for rookie Loney at first". MLB.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Nomar headed back to DL". MLB.com. Retrieved April 26, 2008. 
  8. ^ A's announced Nomar, Cabrera signings Garciaparra on one-year contracts]
  9. ^ Gordon Edes. "Garciaparra set to retire from baseball". 
  10. ^ Ian Browne (May 5, 2010). "Nomar relishes his night at Fenway Park". MLB.com. Retrieved October 13, 2010. 
  11. ^ Dilbeck, Steve (December 2, 2013). "Nomar Garciaparra joins Dodgers broadcasting crew". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  12. ^ Browne, Ian (February 5, 2014). "Red Sox to induct superstar 2014 Hall of Fame class". MLB.com. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  13. ^ Michele Stueven (March 28, 2007). "Soccer Star Mia Hamm Welcomes Twin Girls". People.com. Retrieved September 16, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Nomar rescues 2 women in Boston Harbor". MSNBC.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  15. ^ Biography of Nomar Garciaparra, Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on August 2, 2013.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Derek Jeter
Baseball America Rookie of the Year
1997
Succeeded by
Kerry Wood
Preceded by
Derek Jeter
Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year
1997
Succeeded by
Ben Grieve
Preceded by
Derek Jeter
Players Choice AL Most Outstanding Rookie
1997
Succeeded by
Ben Grieve
Preceded by
Derek Jeter
Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball AL Rookie of the Year
1997
Succeeded by
Ben Grieve
Preceded by
Manny Ramírez
American League Player of the Month
May, 1999
Succeeded by
Rafael Palmeiro