FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It would be easy to remember
On Wednesday morning Garciaparra, 36, flanked by his father, his wife
He sat on the dais between club CEO
The two insist that there are no hard feelings from the trade. Garciaparra even fondly recalled the '04 postseason run, of which he felt a part thanks to the frequent phone calls he received from his former teammates that October. (They even voted him a World Series share to go along with his championship ring.) And so on Wednesday morning, Garciaparra admitted that he cried at home on the day he got traded, but then sought the proper perspective of his role in the history not just of the Red Sox, but of Boston.
"Us as individuals always talk about being part of a World Series and playing in a World Series, but in Boston there's something greater than an individual player winning a World Series," Garciaparra said. "There was something bigger than us, which was winning the World Series for these people, these people that had bled, cried and cheered over the years.... It was winning the World Series for these people, for Red Sox Nation."
Though a born-and-raised Californian, Garciaparra became an adopted son of New England, which is why, noting that his fuel tank as a player had hit empty, he spoke of his recurring dream to retire as a Red Sox.
From 1997 until 2003 he was equal parts baseball superstar and cult hero. There was his splashy debut and unanimous AL Rookie of the Year award in '97, followed by a .372 batting average in 2000, the highest by a right-handed hitter since
"When the history of the Red Sox is written again," Lucchino said, "it will have a very large and important chapter to be written about Nomar Garciaparra."
Garciaparra is right in believing that he was an integral member of the 2004 World Series championship. In many ways he was a founding father of the reborn Red Sox Nation, the phenomenon that has swept through New England and nearly every opposing ballpark since.
"For a long time, the Red Sox really
That craze had its roots in Boston's trips to the ALCS in 1999 and especially 2003. Though Garciaparra's role on the eventual 2004 championship team was small, his play in '02 and '03 helped drive the Sox to the brink of contention. That close call in the '03 ALCS, of course, contributed to the motivation for Epstein to trade for starter
The cracks in Garciaparra's career first showed soon after the publication of the now-infamous
Garciaparra was still a fine hitter in 2004 -- when he played, which wasn't often, given his considerable run of injuries. He batted .321 in 38 games before the trade deadline that year. That's when Epstein moved Garciaparra in a four-way deal that netted defensive-minded
"I didn't realize the effect," manager
The fans, too, who at times voiced frustration with Garciaparra's late-career moodiness, nevertheless gave him a
Garciaparra's career once seemed bound for greatness, closely linked to those of
In retirement Garciaparra will be joining ESPN as an analyst, but said that he is glad to be able to spend more time at home with his family. In filling out his retirement paperwork with the league, in the space next to "reason" he wrote:"because my daughters want daddy home."
His daughters will get their wish and, by retiring as a Red Sox, a Nation of fans got their man home, too.