Transcript of Nomar’s press conference
|03.10.10 at 12:39 pm ET|
Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra announced his retirement as a member of the Red Sox after signing a one-day minor league contract to return to the organization with whom he began his professional career in 1994. Garciaparra was selected as a first-round draft pick that summer, and spent parts of nine years in the major leagues starting in 1996, including a 1997 Rookie of the Year campaign, a 1998 season when he was the runner up in the American League MVP race and a pair of years in 1999 and 2000 when he won batting titles.
“I’ve always had a recurring dream, to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform,” said Garciaparra. “Today I get to fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sox. Earlier today, I signed a minor league contract to be a part of the organization once again. I was getting choked up then, and I’m getting choked up now. I’ve got the chills, but to be able to have that dream come true, I really just can’t put into words because of what this organization has always meant to me, meant to my family, the fans, I always tell people Red Sox Nation is bigger than any nation out there, and to be able to tell people that I came back home to be a part of Red Sox Nation is truly a thrill.”
“The way the city, the fans embraced me, I always just felt that connection,” he continued. “For me, I always said, ‘You know what? I really, truly always wanted that to be the last uniform I ever put on.’ Today I get to do that.”
A transcript of the press conference, in which Garciaparra was joined by Sox GM Theo Epstein and CEO Larry Lucchino, follows. Garciaparra also appeared on the Dale & Holley Show to discuss his decision. To listen to that interview, click here.
Theo Epstein: My part is pretty simple. I am here to announce that we’ve signed Nomar Garciaparra to a contract to return home to the Boston Red Sox, and we’re thrilled about that. We welcome him back. And I’ll turn it over to Nomar for the rest of the announcement.
Nomar Garciaparra: I’m about to take off to the minor league facility right now.
I think the last time I was in Boston, when the Oakland A’s came in … I’d always talked about how a recurring dream was to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform. Thanks to Mr. Henry, Mr. Werner, Mr. Lucchino and Theo, the Red Sox organization, today I get to fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sox. Earlier today, I did sign a contract — minor league contract — to be part of the organization once again. I was getting choked up then and I’m getting choked up now. I’ve got the chills. To be able to have that dream come true, I really can’t put into words, because of what this organization has always meant to me, meant to my family. The fans, I always tell people Red Sox Nation is bigger than any nation out there. To be able to say that I came back home, to be back in Red Sox Nation, is truly a thrill. I really can’t thank the gentlemen to my side enough, and to thank the whole organization. It’s good to be back.
Larry Lucchino: I just want to say to you, you put it well, as did Theo. You talked about coming home. For us, that’s the way we see it. On behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner, our entire organization, and dare I say our entire fan base, we welcome you home. It gives us enormous pride to recognize the respect the respect you have for the organization, the connection you feel to the organization, the connection you feel to the 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 there will be a very large and important chapter devoted to Nomar Garciaparra. Welcome home we are really pleased to have you back.
Why was this so important to you?
I would always have a dream. This is where I started. This is where 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 these fans, and just the way the city and fans embraced me I always felt that connection. For me I always said I truly wanted that to be the last uniform I ever put on. Today I get to do that, and that’s why it’s so important to me.
What’s your future in baseball?
I will be working for ESPN. I’ll be joining ESPN, which is great because I don’t totally walk away from the game. I get to be a part of the game so that’s a huge thrill for me as well.
How difficult is it for you to retire?
Everyone has to come to the point when they are going to retire, and for me I think [that] was working out this offseason. The conditions I have, the physical conditions that I found out more and more of the genetic condition that limited me over the years. I just couldn’t work out the way I liked to work out. That really was my ultimate decision. I had a teammate and friend once say that he knew the date of the last day he played and he said, “I knew my tank was empty.” When I heard him say that quote I thought it was one of the greatest quotes I’ve heard and thought, gosh, I wish some day that I could say that. I knew there was a time in this offseason when I was getting ready, and I remember looking at my wife and going, ‘My tank is empty, it truly is.’ That for me is an absolute thrill to be able to say that. I really just gave everything I could to this game and as much as I could. That was the ultimate decision.
When were the wheels set in motion for today?
When I ultimately came to decide about retiring, sitting down with my family, sitting down with my agent as well and talking about this, I think we all talked about that there is one place if I could script it away or there’s one thing I’d like to do I said I’d like to retire wearing that uniform again. I know we reached out to the Red Sox, reached out to Theo [Epstein] and as you can see there were so welcoming with open arms and I truly can’t thank them enough. That’s how this day kind of came to fruition.
How did the ovation you got when you came back to Fenway play into it?
All of it, that ovation was incredible. Not only just the ovation, and I think when I came back and addressed all of you, it was what I got all along throughout the entire time. When we talk about Red Sox Nation, that is the perfect word to describe it because they are everywhere. Everywhere I go I get so many people that come to me and tell me thank you. Thank you for being a part of it, we miss you, we still love you and all that. It’s so genuine and the feeling is mutual. Hopefully from my actions throughout my career in that uniform and hopefully my actions today tell them what it means to me, and the feelings are mutual in what I feel about them as well.
How much did it hurt not being on the field in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series?
I felt like I was, I really did. All the phone calls I was getting from the guys that were there. Calling me after the games leading up in the playoffs, calling me on the bus. 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 realized something, when I put this uniform on and playing all these years with the Boston Red Sox that us as individuals and as players you always talk about winning a World Series and being a part of the World Series, and in Boston there is something greater than an individual winning a World Series. When I was there I always realized there was something bigger than us as players. Winning a World Series for these people. These people that had bled, cried tears and cheered over the years, winning a World Series in Boston is more than an indivual player winning a World Series it was winning a World Series for these people. For Red Sox Nation, and for me that didn’t happen over night, it took a long time. It was building up, we knew we were there the year before we were in the last games, so you knew it was there. I knew I was apart of building a team like that doesn’t happen over night. It was a tradition of winning, a tradition of getting people there, getting the right 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 ball club. We got there because there was a winning tradition that existed. I definitely feel a part of that. This stuff was instilled in me before. I think that’s the other great thing of me retiring as a Red Sox. 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 meant to them. It means the same to me. It’s that tradition that you keep passing on and is still being passed on today. I think that’s what represents this organization so well.
Is this a precursor to Nomar’s number being retired as a Red Sox?
Larry Lucchino: Well that was not part of the motivation or discussion at all, but you are right that there has been that policy historically. This was about Nomar Garciaparra and his desire to come back and retire as a member of the Red Sox organization. We were so proud of that and so pleased because as Nomar just said, the success of the team in the time we have been around as we are going to our ninth year is built upon the players, the front office, the fans who preceded us. We are well aware of that. Nomar was a critical part of getting us to getting the Red Sox franchise to where it was. He’s played an enormously important role to the history of the Red Sox and all of that is by way of saying your question will come up again down the road, but today is not the day to focus on that. Today is the 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.
How long did it take you to get to the point where you are today after the way it ended in 2004?
I don’t know how much time after. Once in 2004 you are still playing, you are focused on your new team you got to go out there and play. As an athlete and a competitor you are saying I got to go out there and compete. That’s what you are focused on. But all along no matter where I was, I’ve been very lucky to wear some legendary uniforms. The franchises that I’ve been a part of, obviously the Chicago Cubs, I also understand what those fans are going through. I hope they win a World Series as well because I know what those fans are all about. L.A. [Dodgers] that’s the team I grew up watching and to be able to put that uniform on. To put on an Oakland uniform, the thrill for me is that’s where my first big league game was and 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, telling me the same thing. I always said there was a piece in my heart for all the teams I’ve played for, but the biggest part in my heart is obviously here. That’s why I felt 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, does the contract call for a major league invite?
Theo: It almost did, because as soon as Nomar signed it he almost sprinted down to the field and grabbed some batting gloves.
Nomar: The leg stopped me once again.
Theo: Maybe down the road it can include a major league invite of sorts. I’m sure Nomar one day, when the time is right, he will be one of those Red Sox legends returning to spring training and carrying on the tradition that he talked so articulately about. So, no it doesn’t, Nomar saw that the minor league salary has been raised from $850 a month when he first signed to $1,100 a month now, so it says something about inflation.
When you made the trade, you said it was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Now that you are up here today what does that speak to?
Theo: 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. Baseball trades happen. They are 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 that he is a Red Sox. It didn’t change the impact he had where we could contend for and win a World Series.
As Nomar talked about it, I think it meant a lot that our players were calling him on our push to the World Series that year and that they voted him a full share in a ring. He was part of that club and a huge part of the franchise. He’s a Red Sox, and for a long time the Red Sox were Nomar Garciaparra. He really carried us to a point of competitiveness and being one of the teams that had a chance to win the World Series every year. You don’t ultimately win World Series without getting to that point first. Nomar has never held a grudge about that. I never looked at it as something I wanted to do, and I feel personally fortunate that we have been able to maintain a relationship and this day means a lot to me to see Nomar retire as a Red Sox. It wouldn’t be appropriate in any other uniform.
What are some of the things that went through your mind on the day of the trade?
Nomar: You get shocked, disbelief. If you talk to any player that gets traded that’s what happens you go through that. At the same time, as Theo said, it’s part of the game it really is whether you like it or not it exists in the game. I always tell people there is two parts to this game. There is obviously that passion and there is a business side that doesn’t often get talked about but it exists. It’s part of the game and that’s fine, that’s what you have to recognize. That day I was definitely home crying and everything I was shocked, and the next day you have to wipe the tears out of respect for the Chicago Cubs and put on that uniform and try and win a World Series there as well. I tried to win a World Series in every uniform I put on, and that’s the professionalism that exists and I think every player that’s gone through that does the same thing. Chicago is a great example, once a Cub always a Cub, which is great. Once a Red Sox always a Red Sox and I think that for me personally I’ve never felt that more because this is where the blood, sweat and tears started throughout my career.
When you walked in here did it occur to you how many ground balls you’ve taken in this facility?
I was like gosh the field looks great. I said I remember there used to be a few more divots when I was playing here. It’s great. It was interesting just driving here going what’s that street name where I got to turn left and right on to get here. But it all came back to me and it was strange. A buddy of mine who came down and we were just talking about how there is that anxiety when you come to spring training that’s builds up, and just around here it’s a natural thing that you get, especially for doing it for so long. Having to come to this place for 10 years it was still there, the anxiety still hits you.
I can’t thank enough for my family being here. I have my lovely wife Mia, my two lovely daughters Grace and Ava, and my good friend Paul Rappoli who used to be with the Red Sox organization as well. Max, Jack and Eric and my father Ramon and my lovely agent Jackie, thank you all for being here and being a part of this. I can’t thank you guys enough. You have to write a reason for retire on the contract and my reason was because my daughters want daddy home. Daddy will still be working but he’ll get to see you more for sure. That’s a big thrill for me, to have them here and they didn’t want to miss this for the world. It’s definitely a great day for me that I really can’t put into words.
What does it mean for you that you are always going to be remembered as member of the Red Sox?
I think I represent all the organizations I played with, just because of the respect I went out there with every uniform. If I go out and talk to kids at different levels from college kids to younger kids, to always remember the uniforms you put on because every day you represent that uniform. I represent that little league uniform that I put on, I represent those coaches that taught me. I represent my high school uniform, my college uniform. You represent all those uniforms, but I also believe that at this level people look back at me as a career they are always going to see the Red Sox on the front of my chest for sure. I’ve had some wonderful moments in the Cubs uniform, wonderful moments in a Dodgers uniform as well. I think those parts will come out but I think people will remember me in that Red Sox uniform, and I think this just kind of finishes that.
Are you sure you ready to sit on this side of the podium?
It’s a new challenge for sure. I recognize that it’s not easy. I have a lot to learn as well, and I think it’s great that I still get to be in the game that I love so much that’s been so good to me and know that there what’s great about baseball is that it’s a challenging sport, it’s a challenge everyday. That side is going to be the same thing, and I look forward to it as well.
What will you be doing for ESPN?
I’m going to bringing my knowledge and experience in baseball and hopefully teach and explain things that come up. You’ll see me doing some Baseball Tonight, I might be doing some games as well. That’s a whole new and challenging career, right Lou?
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