Nomar is speaking right now. He’s pretty emotional, but upbeat. He said that he knew he was ready to retire when he was working out this offseason and realized that he had nothing left. He recalled something one of his old teammates said when he retired: “I know my tank is empty.”
I took this to be a positive statement, not a negative one. It’s not that he still wants to play and doesn’t have the fuel at the ready to do it. He means that he’s given everything he had to give and won’t have any regrets later. For what it’s worth, Nomar confirmed that he’s taking a job with ESPN, saying “even though I’m walking away from the game, I’m glad I don’t have to walk away completely.”
As for the sign-and-retire thing, Nomar said it was his idea — inspired in no small part by the warm ovation he received when he came back to Boston as a visiting player with the A’s last summer — and that he approached Theo Epstein about it first. The Sox’ position: “When the history of the Boston Red Sox is written — again — there will be a very large and important chapter about Nomar Garciaparra.”
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.