July 24, 2002
How do you celebrate your birthday? Dinner with family or friends. A few drinks, if you’re of age, perhaps some cake and ice cream for the younger crowd. If you’re Nomar Garciaparra, you celebrate in style – with a trio of home runs.
Garciaparra celebrated his 29th birthday with 3 home runs and 8 RBI in a 22-4 romp over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, making him the only player in major league history to hit three homers on his birthday.
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After falling behind by four runs early, Boston exploded for 10 runs in the 3rd inning, beginning with a lead-off homer from Johnny Damon. Two batters later, Garciaparra hit a two-run blast to make it a one-run game. The Red Sox would send 13 men to the plate that inning, giving Nomar another chance in the frame. It was then that he hit his second homer of the game, and of the inning, to put Boston ahead 10-4.
In case driving in four runs in the inning wasn’t enough, Garciaparra drove in four with one swing the following inning by hitting a grand slam that pushed the lead to 16-4.
The Red Sox weren’t done beating up on the Devil Rays yet, but Nomar was done driving in runs at that point. Tampa Bay wisely walked him on his next trip to the plate and got him to fly out to center field in the 8th inning.
Garciaparra hit a respectable 24 home runs that season, along with a league-leading 56 doubles. He bounced back from an injury plagued 2001 season that limited him to 21 games with an All-Star campaign.
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