Nomar Garciaparra debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

He was part of the Golden Age of shortstops, when young stars with power and agility burst on the scene to re-define what middle infielders could do.

Now, Nomar Garciaparra stands one step short of the game’s greatest honor: The Hall of Fame.

Garciaparra debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this fall, one of 34 players on the 2015 BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2015.

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 6. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 26 in Cooperstown.

Garciaparra rocketed to national prominence in 1997, leading the American League in hits with 209 and winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in a unanimous vote. Though injuries derailed his career in his 30s, the lanky infielder left his mark as one of the most feared hitters of his time.

“Love the game,” Garciaparra told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2009. “Love playing. Love being around the guys. I’ve been blessed to be able to play this game, and I never took it for granted.”


Born July 23, 1973 in Whittier, Calif., Anthony Nomar Garciaparra was named after his father, Ramon, which is “Nomar” spelled backwards. Garciaparra was taken in the fifth round of the MLB Draft in 1991 by the Brewers but opted to play college baseball for Georgia Tech. After leading the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Division I title game in 1994, Garciaparra was taken with the 12th overall pick that year by the Red Sox.

Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox used these batting gloves during his 30-game hitting streak in 1997. - B-397-97 (Milo Stewart, Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

He rose quickly though the Minors before debuting with the Red Sox in 1996, then hit .306 with 30 homers (setting a record for most homers by a rookie shortstop), 98 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 1997 – finishing eighth in the AL Most Valuable Player Award voting and earning the first of six All-Star Game selections.

The next year, Garciaparra posted single-season career highs of 35 home runs and 122 RBI en route to a second-place finish in the MVP vote, then followed with batting titles in both 1999 and 2000 – becoming the first right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio in 1939-40 to win back-to-back AL crowns.

A wrist injury cost him all but 21 games of the 2001 season, but Garciaparra rebounded to hit .310 with 24 home runs, 120 RBI and a league-leading 56 doubles in 2002. He hit .301 with 28 homers and 105 RBI in 2003, but in 2004 – with the final months of his contract looming – he was traded to the Cubs on July 31 in a three-way deal that brought Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to Boston.

That fall, the Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years. The Red Sox gave Garciaparra a World Series ring.

“I felt so much a part of it – that’s what people don’t realize,” Garciaparra told the New York Times in 2009. “Getting the ring was important. I felt so much a part of it because it’s a championship season, not just a series. I was a part of that season.”

After a 2005 season in Chicago that saw him play in only 62 games due to a groin injury, Garciaparra signed with the Dodgers – and posted 20 homers and 93 RBI as Los Angeles’ everyday first baseman. His power numbers declined in 2007, however, and after another season in 2008 in Los Angeles and one more with the A’s in 2009 – both shortened by injuries – Garciaparra retired.

He finished his 14-year big league career with 1,747 hits, 229 home runs, 936 RBI and a .313 career batting average. Of all the infielders in big league history to play at least 1,000 games at shortstop, only Honus Wagner (.325) and Arky Vaughan (.318) have a higher batting average.

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