Friday, September 9, 2016

Unknown Heroes Pt. 42: Daniel Nava

- Just 4'8" and 70 lbs. in his freshman year of high school and grew to just 5'5" and 150 lbs. by his senior year of high school.

- A walk-on for his college baseball team but did not make the team and became the team's equipment manager.

- Signed with an independent team after going undrafted from college.

- His contract was purchased by a Major League team for $1.00.

- Hit the very first Major League pitch he saw for a grand slam home run.

- A major contributor for a World Championship team.

Seriously, this sounds like the kind of stuff you would see in a feel-good movie about a young man overcoming a bunch of obstacles to become a Major League baseball player.  A true underdog story.  But yet, all of these things actually happened to Daniel Nava, one of the more interesting baseball stories in a very long time.
Nava came up with the Red Sox as explained above and made his Major League debut in 2010, hitting a grand slam off of the Phillies' Joe Blanton.  It was his only home run that year but he played in 60 games and hit .242/.351/.360.  He was actually placed on waivers, but was not claimed, before returning to the Majors in 2012.  That year he was brought back as the Red Sox outfield was in shambles due to injuries and ineffectiveness.  Nava hit .243/.352/.390 with six home runs.

In 2013, he broke through, playing in 134 games and hitting .303/.385/.445 with 12 home runs, including a dramatic game-winning home run in the team's first home game after the Boston Marathon bombing.  He also performed surprisingly well defensively.
He had a less productive season in 2014, hitting .270/.346/.361 with four home runs and 37 RBIs and then continued to decline in 2015 before being placed on waivers.  The Rays picked him up and he has bounced around ever since.  But, his short Red Sox career and his fascinating story make him an Unknown Hero.  If Jim Morris can have a movie made about his career, Daniel Nava can too.

1 comment:

  1. That's a movie that I'd watch - take notes Disney!