Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good luck, Gabe!

I haven't met many players in person, but I had the chance to meet Gabe in December of 2005 (the picture above is from that meeting). 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!


Tex said...

When I found out about Gabe's retirement today...I thought Ok who's gonna be the one to write the post today? I kept thinking and wondering what to say. I think you did a great job Cyn at saying what we all want to say to him. I am proud to say he is going to my "other home state" of South Carolina. My father is from this state and I have hopes of going to catch a game while visiting in the next couple of years. I heard the park is a replica of Fenway so Gabe should be right at home.

I know he and his wife will become a tight part of the community with their avid participation in the community.

Good Luck to Gabe in this next step of his career. and to all those players who get to play under him....how lucky could you get?

Brenken said...

Cyn, you did an excellent job saying what many of us feel about Gabe. He is a class act. Period.

I'm surprised you forgot to mention one other thing about Gabe.

Some of the Sistahs have had post card showers where many of us send post cards to players who are struggling or injured and letting them know we are with them all the way. One time Gabe was being interviewed and he said "they send us post cards....for no reason at all with no names or return addresses." That was pretty close to his exact words and it was so nice to know that at least one of the players got it and appreciated what the fans do.
For those who don't know, Todd Walker was our first post card victim and he started hitting the day the first post card went in the mail. At the end of the season there was a photo of him packing his bag in the clubhouse and you could see a post card taped on his locker. It happened to be a card that more than one Sistah sent to him so no one REALLY knows whose card it was but that part doesn't really matter (especially since I didn't send that card). :-D

Good luck, Gabe, on this next chapter in your life and hope you stay in the Red Sox organization for many, many years.

Beazer said...

Brenken, I had almost forgotten about his acknowledging the postcards!!! Thanks for the reminder!