Back when Nomar Garciaparra was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the infielder would get the biggest cheers at Dodger Stadium.
He may have made his name and played his best baseball with the Boston Red Sox earlier in his career, but Garciaparra was a local boy, and Dodgers fans never forgot that.
Now retired from playing baseball, Garciaparra has turned to another sport that he has deep ties to, soccer, and says he’s making new dreams come true with his ownership role in MLS expansion team LAFC.
“I’ve just been able to have dreams and been able to fulfill those dreams,” Garciaparra told SoccerNation on Thursday after the press conference revealing LAFC’s new crest and colors. “I’m very blessed, lucky and fortunate. I never felt like I was any better than anybody else and I was able to go out there and play baseball. Now I’m able to be an owner. Hopefully the kids go, ‘Hey, I can do that too.'”
Garciaparra has numerous ties to soccer. While he is well known for being married to fellow LAFC co-owner and U.S. women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm, he also grew up playing the sport and is even related to a pair of Mexican pro soccer players, former Chivas de Guadalajara goalkeeper Javier “Zully” Ledesma and his son, Arturo, who currently plays in the Mexican second division.
And the Whittier native discussed his memories playing soccer as a child mere steps away from the site of LAFC’s future stadium, to be located on the site where the LA Sports Arena now sits.
“For me, every step’s been emotional, because I know where we’re going to put this site at the Coliseum,” Garciaparra said. “I grew up here and I got to play in the Coliseum. So it brought good childhood memories to me. Now we’re going to be able to do that.
“And to think, here I was a child, playing halftime games between professional soccer games and now I’m standing outside of it saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to be an owner of an amazing soccer stadium that’s going to be built right here,’ to me that’s hard to put into words. It really is surreal for me.”
It doesn’t appear Garciaparra will be working on a day-to-day basis for LAFC, as his day job remains in baseball as an on-air analyst for the Dodgers. But the local product takes his role as part of the ownership group seriously, and looks forward to the day someone like him can step on the field for the new soccer team.
“There’s going to be somebody who’s playing for our team, doing the same thing – going out to fulfill their dreams on a beautiful pitch in a beautiful stadium in front of beautiful fans. And who knows after that what they can achieve: Can be an owner, fulfill even more dreams after that.”