Is Nomar Garciaparra retiring? Say it isn’t so. At age 36, with several surgeries having limited his playing time in recent years, the last rock at the shortstop position in Boston is hanging up his uniform for good – maybe, maybe not – with a press conference this morning in Fort Myers.
The legendary Ted Williams touted “NO-mah” as the game’s next great player and he seemed destined for a Hall of Fame career. First, he easily won Rookie of the Year honors in 1997, then followed that with a second-place finish in the MVP ballot in 1998 and two batting titles in two years (1999 and 2000). Five times, he was named to the All-Star while with Boston, and he was often compared to other great shortstops of his time, including Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Tejada.
When Garciaparra returned as an Oakland Athletic last July to Fenway Park for the first time since being traded away in 2004, he received a lengthy standing ovation from an appreciative crowd, to which he tipped his cap and graciously clapped along with them. It reminded us of the moment following a series-ending loss to Cleveland in the 1998 American League Division Series; as the Indians celebrated on the field by the visitor’s dugout, Garciaparra stepped back out from the Boston dugout, turned to the stands, and began clapping in genuine appreciation of the Red Sox fans that had followed the team all season and every season before then.
Boston is still searching for the answer at short while fans search for answers on why such a promising career ended too soon; some might say that Garciaparra is to this generation what Fred Lynn was to the last one and Tony Conigliaro was to the one before then. Red Sox fans will always have a place in its collective heart reserved for Garciaparra, who gave all he had with the club for eight seasons, but we will always wonder what might have been for him.