Yesterday I walked around campus is a slight daze, a goofy grin permanently plastered to my face. People looked at me strangely, but I couldn't bring myself to care: Nomar was home, and he still loved us.
I told my friends about his one-day deal with the Red Sox during lunch, and they looked at me blankly. When I told them I had cried with joy during his press conference, they just rolled their eyes; I clearly need to befriend more baseball fans.
Nomar Garciaparra was - and is - someone special to the people of New England, and to me, yesterday felt like the unexpected return of a childhood friend. Of course, that's because I was a child when Nomar made his Sox debut, and barely a teenager when he was so abruptly traded away. I suspect that sports fans felt differently about his gesture depending on their age: perhaps it felt like a reunion with a high school sweetheart, or the return of an estranged child.
Regardless of the specifics, thousands of people all over New England rejoiced yesterday: the golden boy of the late 1990's/early 2000's had come home. For those fans who might be newer to the fold, let me explain: Nomar was like Dustin Pedroia's grit, Kevin Youkilis's defensive prowess and power, and Jacoby Ellsbury's good looks and flair, all rolled into one spectacular home grown package. Boston (understandably) loved him, and though his relationship with the media was always shaky, he appreciated the fans.
That was perhaps my favorite aspect of the press conference yesterday, the fact that not only did Garciaparra remember our devotion, he treasured it:
Red Sock Nation, I mean that is the perfect word to describe it because they're everywhere. And everywhere I go I get so many people coming to me and tell me, 'Thank you. Thank you for what you've done. Thank you for being a part of it. We miss you. We still love you.' We do all that, and it's so genuine and mutual and I think, hopefully, from all my actions throughout my career, in that uniform, and hopefully my actions today, and tell them what it means to me, and that the feelings are mutual, and how I feel about them as well.
As much lip service as the rabid New England fanbase gets from new players, Nomar really gets us. Though he wasn't actually on the field for the 2004 championship, he played a big part in its coming, and he truly understood what so many players and commentators failed to grasp:
It's winning the World Series for these people. These people that have bled, cried, cheered over the years. Winning the World Series in Boston is more than an individual player winning the World Series. It was winning the World Series for these people, for the Red Sock Nation.
Despite the fact that his relationship with the front office was strained, and his communications with the media were rather rocky, Nomar put everything on the line for the fans, every day. Though injuries would limit him toward the end of his time in Boston, and even more so in the other cities in which he played, Nomar Garciaparra loved his fans.
So, yes, I cried yesterday. And then? I couldn't stop smiling, because #5 was home.