Nomar Garciaparra

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Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar Garciaparra

In his first major league start on the first day of September in 1996, Nomar Garciaparra’s first hit for Boston was a home run, and he ended the day going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two driven in; that would be just a taste of what he would accomplish during his time in Boston. A year later in his first full season, Garciaparra became a force as Boston’s leadoff hitter, making 684 plate appearances to set a club record. He also collected 209 hits, a rookie club record, for a .306 clip and hit 30 home runs while driving home 98 and scoring 122 runs himself; those numbers easily making him the American League Rookie of the Year.

Garciaparra continued to dazzle over the next few seasons, winning batting titles in 1999 and 2000 while also hitting 117 home runs and driving home 436 runs in his first four-plus seasons. In September of 2000, as Boston finished out of the playoffs for the first time in three years, Garciaparra was hit on the wrist by an errant pitch. The following spring, just a week after a Sports Illustrated article and cover proclaimed him the most physically-fit player in baseball, he aggravated the injury again and spent most of the 2001 season on the disabled list, appearing in just 21 games midway through the season.

Returning to full strength in 2002, Garciaparra would again produce at the plate over the next two seasons, hitting another 52 home runs and driving home another 225 RBI while batting above .300 both years. Just a week before the 2004 season was to begin, Garciaparra ended up on the disabled list with a sore Achilles, but there were whispers that the injury was a front in a dispute that had erupted between the shortstop and the franchise over salary negotiations, as he was due to become a free agent at the end of that season. He eventually returned to the lineup in June and batted .321 in 38 games, but a surprise deadline trade sent him to the Chicago Cubs, bringing his Boston career to an abrupt end.

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