Nava recalls memory of special Fenway HR

Outfielder hit game-winning homer after Boston Marathon tragedy in '13

July 1st, 2016

BOSTON -- The memento from the greatest moment of Daniel Nava's baseball life lies within a plastic bag and inside a cardboard box, which sits somewhere in the garage of his Phoenix home.

It's the baseball from his home run on April 20, 2013, the game-winner in the first game at Fenway Park since the Boston Marathon bombings. It's the one that made Nava a cult hero among Red Sox fans, and it used to be displayed prominently on a bookshelf in his office -- until January, when the water came.

While Nava was working out at the Angels' Spring Training facility, his wife went with their daughter to the store and received a text message from local security informing her that the house was flooded. Their daughter had left the water running while playing in the tub earlier in the day, and water had seeped from the second floor to the first.

"They're still putting the house back together," Nava said. "But the company did a great job. They saved the home."

And they saved the ball.

Nava remembers how badly he felt leading up to his memorable eighth-inning at-bat that afternoon. Royals catcher Salvador Perez had baited him into a pickoff at second base in the seventh, and when Nava came to bat in the next frame -- with two on, two out and the Red Sox trailing by a run -- he was desperate for redemption.

"I was just hoping to do something," Nava said. "I didn't know if it was gone or not, and I just remember yelling at the ball -- 'Stretch! Stretch! Get going!'"

The 2013 season was Nava's best as a professional. He played in 134 games, batted .303/.385/.445 and became an integral part of a team that won the World Series, lifting the spirits of a community still shaken up by the tragedy that occurred earlier in the season.

"It was special," Nava said. "It was a special year."

The Angels signed Nava with the hope that he could rekindle some of the magic he showed in Boston, where he batted .278/.364/.403 during a three-year stretch from 2012-14. That hasn't been the case yet, though. Nava has been on the disabled list twice -- first with an issue with his left knee, then an issue with his left groin -- and has produced only a .222/.282/.292 slash line in 27 games.

Sometimes Nava will recall that home run from 2013, or the grand slam he hit on the first pitch he saw in the Major Leagues in 2010.

It helps him during stretches like these.

"Sometimes, when I'm in the grind, I don't want to forget that feeling," Nava said. "So I tell myself, 'Just relax. Remember what happened on the first-pitch grand slam. Just relax, and things will take care of themselves.'"