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36-year-old former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra rejoined his original team for one day today, and then retired, ending a 14-year MLB career, nine with Boston. Garciaparra, who will now become an ESPN analyst, will forever be known for being part of a four-team trade in 2004 that saw Orlando Cabrera take the shortstop job for the rest of the season, and helped the Sox win their first World Series in 86 years. Watch the video of the presser here.
Nomar spoke at his re-signing/retirement in Fort Myers today: "I've always had a recurring dream, was to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform, and thanks to Mr. Henry, Mr. Werner, Mr. Lucchino, and Theo and the Red Sox organization, today I do get to retire, I get to fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sox.
"Earlier today, I did sign a minor league contract, with the organization once again. I was getting choked up then, I'm choked up now. I've got the chills, but to be able to have that dream come true, I really just can't put it into words because what this organization has always to me, meant to my family, the fans, I always tell people, 'Red Sock Nation is bigger than any nation out there.' And to be able to say I came back home, and to be back to Red Sock Nation, is truly a thrill... it's good to be back."
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino: "... we welcome you home. It gives us enormous pride to recognize the respect you [Nomar] have to the organization, the connection you have to the organization, the connection you feel to our fans, and to Fenway Park, and I'm here to tell you that the feelings are mutual. When the history of the Boston Red Sox is written again, they'll be a very large and important chapter devoted to Nomar Garciaparra, and welcome home, we are really pleased to have you back."
More from Nomar: "... This is where I started. The dream to play baseball in the big leagues started here, with the Red Sox. Once I got to the big leagues, once I got to play in front of all of these fans, and just the way the city, the fans embraced me, I just always felt that connection. And for me, I always said, 'you know what,' I really, truly, always wanted that to be the last uniform I ever put on. And today I get to do that, and that's why it's so important to me."
Nomar on his future in baseball: "Today also after this will be working for ESPN. I'll be joining ESPN, and working for ESPN which is great because I don't get to totally walk away from the game. I get to continue being a part of the game, so that's a huge thrill for me as well."
Nomar on how the ovation he received in Boston last summer factored into the decision to retire with the Red Sox: "That ovation was incredible, not only just the ovation, and I think when I came back and addressed all of you, it wasn't just that, what I get all along throughout the entire time, from Red Sox... when we talk about Red Sock Nation, I mean that is the perfect word to describe it because they're everywhere. And everywhere I go I get so many people coming to me and tell me, 'Thank you. Thank you for what you've done. Thank you for being a part of it. We miss you. We still love you.' We do all that, and it's so genuine and mutual and I think, hopefully, from all my actions throughout my career, in that uniform, and hopefully my actions today, and tell them what it means to me, and that the feelings are mutual, and how I feel about them as well."
Nomar's feelings about not being on the field in 2004 when the Sox won the World Series: "You know I felt like I was [on the field], I really did. Because all the phone calls I was getting from the guys that were there, calling me after they win, after the games leading up and they win in the playoffs calling me on the bus, 'Did you see the game?' And I was calling them as well telling them, 'Congratulations. I'm pulling for you, this is great." So I felt like I was there. I always believe that, I realize something, when I put this uniform on, I've been playing all these years with the Boston Red Sox that us as individuals, as players, you always talk about winning the World Series and being a part of the World Series and in Boston, there's something greater than an individual, me as a player, winning the World Series. When I was there I always realized there's something bigger than us, as players. It's winning the World Series for these people. These people that have bled, cried, cheered over the years. Winning the World Series in Boston is more than an individual player winning the World Series. It was winning the World Series for these people, for the Red Sock Nation.
"And as you know in Boston, it didn't happen overnight. It took a long time. And it was building up, it was building up, we knew we were there. Shoot, the year before we were, the last game, so you knew it was there. And I knew I was a part of that, building a team like that doesn't happen overnight. There's a tradition of winning. Tradition of getting the right people there, getting the right people, getting all the pieces of the puzzle right, and I knew I had a factor in that. You just don't get those guys that came over because we were a losing ballclub. We got there because there was a winning tradition that existed. So I definitely feel a part of that. This stuff was instilled in me before, I think the other great thing about me retiring as a Red Sock is I still remember all the greats that put on this uniform, that come around in spring training, that you see, that still talk about what this time means to them when they put on that uniform. And it means the same to me. And it's that tradition that's instilled that you keep passing on and it's still being passed on today and I think that's what represents this organization so well."
Lucchino on whether this move to have Garciaparra retire in a Red Sox uniform is a precursor to Nomar having his No. 5 retired at Fenway Park: "That was not part of the motivation or discussion at all. But there has been that policy historically, but this was about Nomar Garciaparra and his desire to come back and retire as a member of the Red Sox organization. We're so proud of that and so pleased because as Nomar just said, the success of the team in the time that we've been around, and we're going into our ninth year, is built upon the players, the front office, the scouts, the fans, who preceded us. And we're well aware of that. And Nomar was a critical part of getting the Red Sox franchise to the stage where it was. So he's played an enormously important role in the history of the Red Sox. And all that is by way of saying that your question will I think come up again down the road, but today's not the day to focus on that. Today's a day to focus on the pride that we feel and the respect we have for Nomar and his decision to retire as a member of the Boston Red Sox."
Nomar on how quickly he decided to retire with the Red Sox, considering the way he left town: "I don't know how much time after I, ...in 2004, you're focused on your new team, you gotta go out there and play. As an athlete and competitor, you say I gotta go out there an compete, that's what you're focused on but all along, no matter where I was. I've been very lucky. I've been very fortunate throughout my career to wear come legendary uniforms. I mean the franchises that I've been a part of, obviously the Chicago Cubs, I also understand what those fans and everything are going through as well. I wish them, I hope they win a World Series as well becauseI know what those fans are all about. LA, that's the team that I grew up watching, and to be able to put that uniform on. And put on an Oakland uniform, the thrill for me is that's where my first big league game was, first big league hit. And to be able to end my career on that same field was special to me.
"But throughout all that time, I was constantly seeing Boston fans everywhere and telling me the same thing, and like I said, there's a place in my heart for those teams that I've played for, but the biggest part in my heart is obviously here. And that's why I felt like for me to really finish and ultimately retire, it wouldn't have felt like a retirement if I couldn't put this uniform on one more time."
Theo Epstein, when asked if a major-league invite was part of Nomar's deal: "It almost did because as soon Nomar signed it he almost sprinted down to the field, grab some batting gloves, (Nomar: 'The legs stopped me once again') Maybe down the road it can include a major-league invite of sorts. I'm sure Nomar, one day when the time is right, will be one of those legends returning to spring training, carrying on the tradition that he talked so articulately about, so no it doesn't. Nomar saw that the minor-league salaries raised from $850 a month when he first signed, to $1,100 a month now, so it says something about inflation."
Theo, when asked what it speaks of their relationship that he and Nomar could go from the environment at the trade deadline in 2004 to this day: "We've been fortunate to maintain a relationship over the years after the trade. I think both of us understood at the time that it wasn't about Nomar, and it wasn't about me, it was just baseball trades, or they happen. They're about what's going on with the team at the time and certain things that had to happen, but it didn't change what Nomar meant to the Red Sox. It didn't change the face that he is a Red Sock, it didn't change the impact he had in getting us to the point where we could contend for a World Series and win a World Series, as Nomar talked about it means a lot that players were calling him on our push to the World Series that year, and voted him a full share and a ring. He's part of that club. He's a huge part of this franchise. He's a Red Sock. And for a long time the Red Sox were Nomar Garciaparra. He really carried us to a point, long before any of us were here, a point of competitiveness and being one of the teams that had a chance to win a World Series every year, and you don't ultimately win World Series without getting to that point first. Nomar's never held a grudge about that. I've never look at it as something that I wanted to do and I feel very personally fortunate that we've been able to maintain a relationship and this day means a lot to me to see Nomar retire as a Red Sock. It wouldn't have been appropriate in any other uniform."
Red Sox owner John Henry on Garciaparra via AP: "Nomar will always hold a special place in Red Sox history and in the hearts of Red Sox Nation. His accomplishments on the field and in the community place him among the greatest players to wear a Red Sox uniform. We are very appreciative that Nomar is ending his career where it began."
More from the AP story: "I always enjoyed playing against Boston because of Nomar," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said of Garciaparra, who was sometimes in the thick of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. "I used to enjoy being mentioned with him."
Added Alex Rodriguez: "I love Nomar. He's a great player and a friend."
Nomar in the Red Sox broadcast booth during today's game vs. the Rays: "I talked to Mike Cameron and Bill Hall on the way back to the clubhouse about it [being a member of the Red Sox]," Garciaparra said. "I told them to engage it, embrace it, and they'll have a lot of fun." Nomar said he liked the signing of Marco Scutaro as the new Sox shortstop saying he plays the game right and he would "throw his body in front of the baseball." Nomar was asked about the shouts of Nomah! when he walking among Red Sox fans. "I said, I finally get the 'h' back in my name," Nomar said.