My father was always pushing me and telling me, ‘I know you can do it.’ Well, I didn't know. But I’d try, and then I could do it.
After he was right so many times, if he told me to jump off a bridge and I would be perfectly fine, I’d do it. -Nomar Garciaparra pic.twitter.com/MQfvQU7kll
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) January 9, 2018
He put together some stellar seasons with the Red Sox.
As the team rebuilt themselves for new championship runs, he became the franchise’s cornerstone.
Over this time, he was constantly battling with Yankees counterpart Derek Jeter for the title of “best shortstop in the MLB.”
In some ways, Garciaparra was even more talented.
There were even moments where he was considered to be the best right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio.
However, while he did put together a solid career, it was not quite to the full potential that he showed during his younger years.
What ever happened to Garciaparra, and what caused this downfall?
Garciaparra Breaks Out With Red Sox
In 1994, Garciaparra was drafted by the Red Sox with their first-round pick.
During his rookie season with the Red Sox in 1997, he developed himself into one of the best all-around players in the league.
He led the league in hits with 209, also slugging 30 home runs and a .306 batting average.
Sept 20, 1997 – In his rookie year, #5 Nomar Garciaparra collects his 200th hit of the season. He won the AL Rookie of the Year, finishing the season with a .306 BA, and he also boasted hit streaks of 30 games, 23 games, and 22 games throughout the season. pic.twitter.com/BOO5HI2R2G
— Red Sox Throwbacks (@SoxThrowbacks) May 5, 2020
This earned him an All-Star appearance and Rookie of the Year award.
He followed this up with a 1998 season that was even better, hitting .323 with 35 home runs and 122 RBI.
In the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Garciaparra led the MLB in batting average with .357 and .372 marks respectively.
He was the first to accomplish this feat since DiMaggio did.
While his power did take a small step back, he still had over 20 home runs each year.
— Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later (@RedSoxPod_BSS) July 23, 2020
However, he was developing himself into an even better all-around hitter.
In 2001, he suffered a wrist injury that forced him to miss much of the season.
This was the start of various injuries that slowly hurt Garciaparra’s total career numbers.
However, he was able to bounce back with two straight All-Star appearances in 2002 and 2003.
In fact, he seemed like he had gotten back to his same level of play and dominance as he was completely healthy during those two seasons.
The next spring, he suffered an Achilles injury that would start his downfall in the league.
The Brevity Of His Stardom
During the 2004 season, Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs where he continued to play well.
However, as the Red Sox celebrated a World Series title that Fall, he was the obvious man out.
Following the 2004 season, he began to fall off a cliff.
He was limited to just 62 games in 2005 and posted a .283 batting average.
In 2006, he bounced back to All-Star form as he hit 20 home runs and hit .303.
Only true baseball fans remember Nomar Garciaparra was hitting .360 into July for the ‘06 Dodgers before injuries hampered his production the last two months. The man was simply a lethal hitter when intact physically. Rare combination of contact skills, power, and aggression. pic.twitter.com/aWawzHf6Rn
— Matt Waters (@steeryourway) May 13, 2020
His power numbers took a major step back in 2007, hitting just seven home runs.
Then, in his final two seasons, he played in just 120 total games as he was once again limited due to injuries.
Garciaparra Misses Cooperstown
For fans that had become accustomed to the dominance of Garciaparra, this downfall was clearly uncharacteristic.
His peak was arguably the best among all shortstops in MLB history.
However, it was just so short that he failed to establish a truly impressive career resumé.
While he finished with a .313 career average, he had just 1,747 hits and 229 home runs.
Over his first six seasons in the league, it was expected that he would eventually make it to Cooperstown.
Unfortunately, injuries contributed to a rapid decline in his skill and caused him to have an early retirement.
It also doesn’t help that he wasn’t able to be on the Red Sox championship team in 2004, even though he was a critical part to the team during the years before.
Now, Garciaparra remains largely out of the public eye with his wife and former U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm.
The two are owners of the Los Angeles Football Club as well.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 4, 2018
Though he never had career numbers that lived up to his potential, he will always be remembered as one of the most dominant players in the late 1990s and early 2000s.