Yes, I have been MIA the past two weeks, but I came back to town just in time to witness Daniel Nava make history at Fenway this past Saturday.
The day got off to a lousy start. It was rainy and I walked into Fenway only to see Scott Atchison on the mound. I did a double-take. Where was Dice K? Evidently he was a last minute scratch due to a forearm strain suffered in warm-ups forcing him back on the DL. We know with Dice K on the mound it’s always an adventure but with Atchison and 9 innings of bullpen work ahead of them, who knew what we were in store for?
The Phillies took an early 2-0 lead in the 2nd but Boston answered back quickly later that inning with a J.D Drew home run to right field. Adrian Beltre followed that with a single up the middle, and Jason Varitek reached on a bunt single to third. The Red Sox original rookie phenom, Darnell McDonald singled to right loading the bases.
It was at that moment I looked at the scoreboard and did another double-take…Daniel who? Daniel Nava was approaching the plate and clearly this had to be his first at bat. In fact, he was called up from Pawtucket to replace Josh Reddick that day. I immediately alerted my friends that this was his first major league at bat and to pay attention. Good thing I did it before the first pitch because he took a Joe Blanton fastball deep into the Red Sox bullpen on the first pitch for a GRAND SLAM!!! Fenway went nuts! What was even better was this happened on national TV because it was the Saturday Fox game. What do you have to say about that McCarver?
Nava became the second player in history (after Kevin Kouzmanoff with the Indians in 2006) to hit a grand slam on the first pitch. Only four players in history have hit a grand slam in their first at-bat. He is the 10th player to homer in his first at-bat for the Red Sox, and just the second to hit a grand slam.
So who is this Daniel Nava?
Well, for those of you kids out there that are being told you are too small to play at the high school, college or professional level, it certainly didn’t stop Daniel Nava. He began high school weighing just 70 lbs! By the time he was a senior he maxed out at 135. He was more of a defensive player, and coaches often used a designated hitter for him.
Nava was cut during tryouts at the University of Santa Clara in 2003. He served as the team manager for two years. He went to junior college at the College of San Mateo where he hit .430. His senior year, he went back to Santa Clara, made the team, and hit .395 to lead the WCC in 2006.
After college he played in the independent Golden League for the Chico Outlaws in 2007. He hit .371 with a .475 on-base percentage. Chico won the league title and Nava was named league MVP. It was after that impressive season that the Red Sox obtained his rights from the Outlaws for $1 with the promise of $1,499 more if he was kept past spring training on a minor league team.
In 2008, he won the California League batting crown while he was at Boston’s single A affiliate, Lancaster. He hit .341 and blasted 10 home runs in 85 games.
Nava has a crush on ESPN personality Erin Andrews. His hopes are so high that he has left a ticket for her at every minor league game he has played in for the last three years. Andrews posted on her Twitter page Saturday night, after Nava’s grand slam, “Pass along my best to Daniel. Congrats on a big day that will go down in Sox history. Hope to meet him soon.” Keep your fingers crossed Nava!
Just before the game during a pre-game interview with radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione he shared a story he learned from Chuck Tanner of the Milwaukee Braves, who hit a home run in his first career at-bat on April 12, 1955. “Swing at the first pitch,’’ Castiglione said, “because you’ll never get it back.’’
“I’ll do what I can,’’ said Nava. He ended the day, 2 for 4 with four RBIs. Not bad for your first day of work.
The Sox went on to win that day 10-2, blowing out the Phillies for the second day in a row and taking 2 out of 3 in the series. They are now 37-28 and only 4 games back in the standings. They begin a 3 game series tonight with some more Interleague action when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks.
About the Author
Written by "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek
I was born a sports fan. Playing soccer, basketball and softball in high school, then moving on to play Div. II softball at Keene State on partial scholarship. In 2003, our team was inducted into the Keene State Hall of Fame. GO OWLS! I am a die hard Red Sox, Patriots and UNC Tar Heel hoop fan. Most of my friends call me Baseball Brenda because when it comes to ranking my priorities in life, the Red Sox always are first on the list. I average about 40 games a year and I have attended every home playoff game since moving back to MA in 2005. I am super competitive and excel at anything you can win at :) Horseshoes, ping pong, darts, pool, cornhole, and bowling. Always love a good challenge. I play a lot of golf in the summer and a lot of fantasy sports. I am always looking to meet local Sox fans so look me up on Facebook.