Blowing some kisses to the retiring Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar spent three seasons with the Dodgers, and yet on many levels, it seemed we hardly knew him.
Some of that was by design, some just a product of his personality. For a player who had been a superstar, he was reserved and private. He never took attitude and would be agreeable if you approached him for an interview, but he wasn’t going to light up your notepad.
And, sure, by the time Nomar came home and joined the Dodgers, he was firmly in the decline of his career.
But he still put together a terrific first season for the Dodgers in 2006, batting .303 with 20 home runs and 93 RBI. And that season he capped one of the most electrifying moments in recent team history when on Sept. 18, after the Dodgers had hit four consecutive home runs in the ninth to tie it and the Padres scored once in the top of the 10th to regain the lead, he hit a two-run homer to win it in the bottom of the inning.
Once a unanimous AL Rookie of the Year for the Red Sox, for his 2006 season he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
A natural shortstop -- once part of the position’s Holy Trinity with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez -- he constantly gave himself up for the team, always willing to change positions.
When he signed with the Dodgers, he switched to first base because they had signed Rafael Furcal. In the middle of the next season, he volunteered to move from first to third so the Dodgers could find room for James Loney. In his injury-riddled final season in 2008, he came off the DL and went back to shortstop because Furcal was injured.
His playing career ended Wednesday, Nomar signing up with Boston for one day so he could retire in a Red Sox uniform. Oddly, the reticent Nomar will now be an analyst for ESPN.
They loved him in Boston, where he spent the first eight years of his career and was an A.L. MVP runner-up. And he deserves some love from those back in L.A.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Nomar Garciaparra warms up prior to a game against the Colorado Rockies on August 20, 2008. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times