Boston Red Sox' Daniel Nava is Underdog Personified

By Shaun P Kernahan
Daniel Nava
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox‘ breakout star Daniel Nava has been overlooked his whole life. When he began high school, he was a less than imposing 4-foot-8 weighing in at 70 pounds. Like any high schooler, he grew, but due to his small start, when he reached college, he was still just 5-foot-4 and 140 pounds.

He wasn’t a baseball player when he attended Santa Clara, instead he was the team’s equipment manager, and his main role was washing the uniforms. He eventually transferred to a junior college, proved he could hit, returned to Santa Clara and was able to spend a season as a starter.

Even after college, there was no interest in Nava from MLB organizations, but did get a tryout with the semi-pro club Chico Outlaws, where he was promptly cut.  He did not allow that to hold him back, and eventually was able to make the team and be named Player of the Year.

He was so good, in fact, the Red Sox decided to purchase his contract… for a dollar. Yes, the Boston Red Sox purchased a future starter for less than the change hidden under the seats of your car.

Over the course of the next two seasons, Nava worked his way up the three levels between him and the Major Leagues, and made his debut on June 12, 2010.

On that summer day, the now 5-foot-10, 200-pound Nava stepped into the batter’s box of Fenway Park and dug in to face Philadelphia Phillies‘ Joe Blanton.  The bases were loaded, the first pitch of Nava’s Major League career comes in, and he promptly deposits it into the right center field bullpen.  The first pitch he ever sees in the big leagues is a grand slam.

Despite his incredible debut, Nava spends the remainder of the 2010 season, along with 2011 and 2012, between Boston and Pawtucket. He did not receive everyday playing time until this season.

He has gone on to be one of the best players on the Red Sox this season, and arguably one of the biggest All-Star game snubs. Daniel Nava has certainly had an unorthodox path to Major League stardom.

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