The Disappointing Way Nomar Garciaparra Got His Only World Series Ring

When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, they did so on behalf of every Red Sox player who survived the 80-plus-year Babe Ruth curse. MLB players from several generations watched with joy and jealousy as their beloved team put the past behind them and win. One player, Nomar Garciaparra, however, had to watch under heartbreaking circumstances.

Nomar Garciaparra’s Red Sox years

The Red Sox drafted the shortstop in the 1994 MLB June Amateur Draft. Garciaparra became the 12th overall pick after a successful stint at the Georgia Institute of Technology. From there, he spent a few seasons in the minors, learning the ins and outs of pro baseball.

Over the next eight years, Garciaparra went from prospect to All-Star. He made his first All-Star appearance in 1997 and continued the tradition almost every year until 2006. Garciaparra could do a little bit of everything; he could hit with remarkable accuracy and provide the team run support when they were a bind. 

By 2004, Garciaparra was a fan favorite. The Silver Slugger was part of several memorable playoff runs that ended in disappointment. Partway through that season, however, Boston traded him to the Cubs.

Garciaparra defined his career as a Red Sox. But he had some good years as a LA Dodger before retiring in 2009 after one season with the Athletics. With 229 home runs, a .313 career batting average, and 936 RBIs, Garciaparra had a great career. But one thing stung more than anything else.

Garciaparra just misses out on the World Series

Nomar Garciaparra of the Boston Red Sox is introduced on Opening Day in 2002
Nomar Garciaparra of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 | Al Bello/Getty Images

One thing Garciaparra never accomplished was a World Series run. All four teams he represented were amidst World Series droughts by the time he got there. Technically, the shortstop has a ring. He can thank the 2004 season, when the Red Sox shocked the world and won the World Series. Garciaparra had to watch as his former teammates stormed the mound to celebrate.

He spoke about how bittersweet this sight was. On the one hand, he was happy for his friends. On the other, he wished he could’ve been there to celebrate the moment. 

“It was obviously devastating being traded, there’s no question about that,” Garciaparra said per NESN. “But I was happy for them winning the World Series. For me, my teammates made me feel a part of it, which was great, and that’s what I was grateful for. When they were going through the playoffs, I was getting calls from them when they were on the bus, and they were like, ‘Hey, did you see that? You see what we’re doing?’ “

Despite being left out, Garciaparra felt like he had played a part in history: “The thrill for me about them winning in ’04 was when you come here and you play for the Red Sox, as a player, you dream of playing in the World Series, you want to win a World Series. But I realized here that the World Series is bigger than you. It was about for these people and these fans and the tradition here, what it meant. And I’m glad that in ’04 that it was finally accomplished because these great fans deserved it.”

Still, this joy couldn’t mask the fact that Garciaparra was so close to a ring and never won it.

The Red Sox honor Garciaparra

Since then, the Red Sox have honored Garciaparra on multiple occasions. Despite not being on the team, the shortstop received a ring thanks to all he did for the team in eight-and-a-half seasons. Although there wasn’t much fanfare as the team decided to celebrate behind closed doors, reports ESPN, Garciaparra felt appreciated. 

The team honored Garcia after his retirement in 2010, making him feel at home like he did as a player. He doesn’t have to dwell on the fact that he didn’t get to win his ring. In the eyes of many on the team, he was a part of the story. While Garciaparra has found peace, one can’t help but wonder what would happen if he hadn’t been traded in 2004.