Imagine this version of the American Dream. A young man graduates from High School in the west and goes on to a University where he tries out for the baseball team. After high school,at 5’8′, 135 pounds, he doesn’t make the team so he takes the position as Team Manager because baseball is his dream and he wants to be around it.
During the next two years, while going to school and performing his duties as Manager, he works out as much as he can and plays as much baseball as he can trying to hone those skills so that he can someday play at a higher level.
After his second year at college, he transfers to a nearby Junior College, where he not only makes the team but is named a Junior College All American. The college he originally started gives him a baseball scholarship to return for his senior year. That year, he hits .395 and is named to the first team All West Coast Conference Team.
Even after two very impressive years in college ball, he is not drafted by any major league team so he joins an Independent League team playing in the west. Finally, in 2008, a major league team notices him and purchases rights to him from the Independent League Team for one dollar.
He is sent to the minor leagues where he hits well and progresses quickly through the organization’s farm system for the next two years.
Fast forward to June 12, 2010. Our young man makes his debut in Major League baseball. In his first at bat he hits the first pitch he has ever seen in the big leagues for a grand slam home run.
Over the next two years, he spends some time in the big leagues but also shuttles back and forth as needed between the team’s AAA farm team and the big leagues. In 2012, in just 88 games in the big leagues, he hits .243, with six homers and 33 RBI’s, shuttling back and forth from AAA to the parent team.
At the start of the 2013 season, he makes the big league team, ends up playing in 134 games, hitting .303 with 12 homers and 66 RBI’s. He plays the outfield and even fills in at first base as needed. His team surprises everyone and wins its division title, goes on the win the league championship and, eventually the World Series.
Our hero, who couldn’t make his college team 13 years ago, is now the proud owner of a World Series ring, the most coveted prize in the baseball world. That was the story of Daniel Nava, a young man who made his dream come true with the Boston Red Sox through hard work and perseverance.
The story doesn’t end there, though. The next year, the team fell apart and finished in last place but he still hit .270 in 113 games. The following year, he is caught up in and maybe even a victim of bad management that find his team with eight major league outfielders and not enough pitching as the season starts. He ends up being sent back to the minors while the other, more expensive mistakes that his team has made battle for spots in the lineup while the team sinks lower and lower into the basement of the division.
Eventually, after hitting .250 in 10 games in the minors and only .152 in 66 games in the Major Leagues, he was designated for assignment this past week. The Sox must either takes him back, release him, place him on waivers or trade him in the next ten days.
Daniel Nava’s days with the Red Sox are apparently over. My bet is that he will land on his feet with another team in the near future. There have to be teams out there who can make use of his versatility, hitting ability and more than anything else, his desire and willingness to work for what he wants. Whatever happens his story is one of the most inspiring in sports in recent years.