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In a press conference Wednesday morning, Red Sox legend Nomar Garciaparra first announced that he signed a one-day, minor league contract with the team, and then announced his retirement to officially end his 14-year playing career in a Red Sox uniform.
“I was not lying when I said I would always have a dream. This is where I started, this is where the dream to play baseball in the big league started here, with the Red Sox. Once I got to play in front of all these fans, and the way this city and all these fans embraced me, I mean, I always just felt that connection. Like I said, for me, I always said I truly wanted this to be the last uniform I ever put on. And today, I get to do that. And that’s why it’s so important to me,” Garciaparra said (quote from Boston.com).
Nomar and his representatives apparently reached out to the Red Sox about the gesture, and Theo Epstein and co. were happy to oblige.
“I think last time I was in Boston when the Oakland A’s came to town [last season] . . . I was talking about always having a recurring dream to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform. I want to thank John Henry, Mr. Werner, Mr. Lucchino, and Theo, and the Red Sox organization, because today I get to retire and fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sock,” Garciaparra said.
Nomar, now 36, will now move on to ESPN as a baseball analyst.
He played for the Sox from 1996 until he was traded to the Cubs in 2004, months before the team won their first World Series since 1918. He was a fixture in the Boston lineup during that time, hitting .323. He claimed two batting titles after hitting .357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000, becoming the first right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio to lead the league in hitting two years in a row.
Before the 2004 season, the Red Sox were desperate to make the team better. After the infamous collapse in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees, the Red Sox were hungrier than ever to win it all. The team traded for veteran starter Curt Schilling and signed closer Keith Foulke. The team also desperately tried to trade Manny Ramirez for All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez, which would’ve triggered a trade of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra for Chicago’s Magglio Ordonez. After the A-Rod trade was disallowed by the MLBPA, the Sox retained Manny and Nomar.
Seemingly unhappy, and suffering from lingering injuries, Nomar was traded to the Cubs in 2004 in a shocking four-team deal at the deadline. In the trade, the Sox dramatically improved their defense, acquiring shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Months later, the Sox won their first World Series since 1918. Nomar received a ring, but his departure was more important to the team’s success than his being there.
Injuries to his groin, calf, hand, among other body parts, tore apart the rest of his career. He won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2006 while playing first base with the Dodgers, but his career continued its downward spiral until Wednesday, when he signed the one-day contract with the Red Sox.