Good luck, Gabe!

I haven’t met many players in person, but I had the chance to meet Gabe in December of 2005. He was well-(and soft) spoken and so obviously happy to be there. That season ended poorly for him. He ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and some of us were sure he wouldn’t play in 2006.

I asked him that day how he felt and he told me he felt great. He also told me he’d be back playing soon. He thanked me and my friend for coming out and he signed a dvd and a photo for me. I always liked Gabe but I was never taken with him the way many women in Red Sox Nation seem to be taken.

That changed after I met him. 🙂

Gabe Kapler will never be a Hall of Famer. He’ll probably only be remembered by fans of the 2004 Red Sox (as one of “The 25”). But he was so much more to the team.

He started the 2005 season in Japan and I remember watching him on “Extra Innings” when he came back to the team. Tom Caron told him that everyone in the clubhouse talked constantly about how much they missed him. This seemed to truly surprise Gabe.
When the Red Sox clinched the Wild Card in 2005, Gabe already had his surgery. He wasn’t playing with the team, but showed up that day to celebrate in the clubhouse with his teammates. Many players remarked on how much it meant to them that he was there. It meant a lot to the fans too. Remember, Gabe is the guy who took less money to come back to the team in 2004, because he wanted to play in Boston.

Gabe Kapler is one of those rare people who seems to be a genuinely good guy. Even though he was never quite a superstar, he took his success and began his own foundation – dedicated to promoting awareness about domestic violence. In a field where powerful men who dominate all those around them are revered, Gabe chooses to be the man who admits that you don’t have to flaunt your strength to be a real man.

I had great hopes for this post. But the truth is, writing about Gabe made me a little more emotional than I expected. When I read about his retirement, I immediately decided to write this brilliant account of his career. Something to convey how special he is to Red Sox Nation, because there are many fans outside the Nation who just won’t get it. Instead, I find myself very sad and it’s difficult for me to find the proper words to write a brilliant farewell for Gabe.

Luckily for us, Gabe is not going far. He’s staying on with the team as the manager for the Greenville Drive, in South Carolina. Gabe’s feelings on his new assignment? Predictably humble:

“A place where I’m going to be rewarded emotionally and spiritually to have an extreme impact on somebody’s life can be much more powerful than hitting a home run in a clutch situation. “It feels right inside of my body.”
It feels right inside of his body.

Reading those words gives me chills.

It isn’t often you can say you’re proud of someone like a professional athlete. Gabe Kapler is the type of person who makes that possible.

I’m so proud he continues on with the team and I’m proud that we in “The Nation” will always be able to say he’s ours.

My apologies for the rambling post…but Gabe deserves more than just a brief mention.

Thanks for it all, Gabe!

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