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Blowing some kisses to the retiring Nomar Garciaparra

Nomar Giving up some love to 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.
Born in Whittier, he reached out to the team’s Mexican American fans. He married America’s greatest female soccer star, Mia Hamm. And he was a true hero away from the game, once jumping into Boston Harbor to save two women who had fallen, one who had hit her head on the pier.

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

Comments () | Archives (17)

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Nice tribute to one of the most beloved players in L. A. and Boston. Just a gentle correction: Nomar actually hit the winning home run in extra innings after the four players - Jeff Kent, J. D. Drew, Russell Martin, and Marlon Anderson - hit consecutive home runs in the ninth inning.

Tom: How right you are. Will update, thanks.

A truly great, classy and professional player... we were lucky to have him here in LA if even for a few years at the end of a storied career... Thanks Normar! You will always be remembered here as both a Red Sox and a Dodger!!

"Better living through chemistry."

Nomar was responsible for the most exciting game ever played by the Dodgers since I've been alive. The only thing that makes Kirk Douglas's homer a pin above that was that it won a World Series game out of an injured bullpen.

But for regular season games, that 2006 game was the greatest ever that 's I've seen as a Dodger fan.

I still have the LATimes sports front page with him rounding first.

I hope to see Nomar on :) He's a classic.

Nomar was/is a class act, and no steroids...

Another gentle correction- He never won an MVP either.

Blake: Maybe at this point you shouldnt be so gentle. He was actually runner-up to the MVP in 1998. Thanks, red-faced Steve

For his short time in L.A. he really left some long lasting memories. Didn't he also hit a walk-off against the Giants in the last game of the season in '06? Truly remarkable player. Hey Steve, would've prefer you use Latino and not Mexican-American in your piece. God job though!

An additional "oops" to note: I didn't know Kirk Douglas hit a memorable home run for the Dodgers—perhaps at one of the Hollywood Stars Nights.

Lots of love to Nomar. Though he was only with us for three years—and of those had only one really good year—he is and will be one of my favorite Dodgers.

my sons are 27,25 and 22 and never got to see the balplayers of my era but they got to see a man who treated the game the way my idols did his name nomar garciapara we only got to see a flash of the ballplayer he was when he was younger but old or young he was all class first rate thank you sir thank you....

Nomar!!!!!!!! What a great career he had I would be so proud of my years as a member of he MLB if I was him ! All the great years as a Red Sox & then coming home & playing his heart out for his home fans .
I was there & stayed for the 4 HR's in the bottom of the 9th to tie (at the time ) the pesky Padres & then watched Nomar go deep for the walk off HR !!!!! What a night that was ! I can NOT tell you how long I've been goin to Dodger Stadium , my Dad took me as long as I can remember & that was one of the truely great games I've seen there & the best game I saw either in person or on TV . Thanks "Home Boy" for a great night of Dodger history ! also seen his defense at 1b save a playoff game sniping a line drive with runners on that woulda lost the game for us . & bye the way I'll always remember War's "Low Rider " being played before his at bat.

Perhaps Soupking meant Kirk Gibson, not Douglas

That night he won the game with the two run homer after the Dodgers hit four consecutive homers will always be remember.
I'd say Nomar was pretty popular among Dodger fans and it sort of sad, that all that is in the past.
Naturally he was well known on the east coast and that made it more fun rooting for him out lowed at Shea whenever the Dodgers came to town.

Nomar had a great career with the Red Sox. He had more late inning clutch hits in 2006 than anybody I can remember. He was truly a class act on and off the field and I wish him well in his retirement.

Nomar was carried off by his teammates so many time during his stint in LA it was remarkable. Man was one of the best clutch hitters during the time I had seen. Great guy too.

Nomar was a class act and fun to watch, even when he was toe-dancing and driving pitchers batty with his walk-up wiggles.

Here's to some memorable games, Nomaaa!


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