Seconds after Theo Epstein announced that the Red Sox had come to terms on a one-day, minor league contract with former Red Sox great Nomar Garciaparra, Nomar himself announced his retirement. I could easily spend the next few paragraphs spitting career stats and accomplishments for Nomar but you can just go ahead and Google that yourself. Instead, I rather talk to you about the type of person Garciaparra was. RBI Baseball Academy owner Paul Rappoli has been a dear friend of Nomar’s since they both spent time in the Red Sox organization together. Due to this relationship, many of us here at RBI have had the great fortune of not only meeting Nomar on numerous occasions but we’ve had the ability to sit down and get to know what type of person he is…off the field.
I first met Nomar in passing at the Nomar5 Camps that were held at Stonehill College when I was a student/ballplayer there. As players for the school, we had the option of working the camps and clinics as part of our team fundraising efforts (way better than our regular on-campus options). Nomar would always love picking our brains about how our team was looking for the upcoming season and how much he missed being a college baseball player. It showed his passion for the game.
Coincidentally I was hired by RBI just out of college as a Director and Instructor which meant I interacted a lot with players and parents who had been at the Nomar Camps and Clinics in the past and all I heard from parents was how much their children adored Nomar. I mean every kid loves the star player for their hometown team but this was different. All of them seemed to have a personal memory of conversations and interactions with Nomar at camp. Five years after the last Nomar5 Summer Camp, I still have people send in pictures of their child at camp with Nomar or people send in stories about their child’s experience at camp. Nomar made it a point to not only meet each kid at camp but to spend a full day at camp going from team to team and spending as much time getting to know each player. It was really quite special and truly showed his sincerity.
In the winter of 2009, Nomar spent a month training at RBI as he was a free agent looking to get in shape and catch on with a team for the upcoming season. He spent his days hitting in RBI’s cages, working out upstairs, hanging out with the staff in the office, and even giving great customer service at the front desk! It was during this month where I realized firsthand what a great guy Nomar Garciaparra was. Each day I would come into work that he was there it was always a positive atmosphere focused on having fun doing what we were doing. In our business, certain times of year can be very busy and stressful. Nomar helped relieve that stress for the staff by keeping things loose and upbeat. He made us realize that we were doing a good thing helping kids achieve their goals and you could tell that next to playing the sport, Nomar loved helping other people understand his passion too.
Not only did Nomar announce his retirement from professional baseball but he announced his new career as an analyst for ESPN. He will be featured on Baseball Tonight and has also gotten back into headlining RBI Clinics which started with this past December’s “Advanced Hitters Workshop” and this summer’s Nomar Garciaparra Baseball Clinic at Tufts University from July 6-9.
We at RBI would like to say thank you to Nomar Garciaparra for all you have done for our staff, our company, our players and parents, and for the game of baseball. You have shown a generation of youth players the right way to play the game on the field and the right way to act off the field.