Yesterday, rookie Daniel Nava hit a grand slam in his first major-league at-bat for Boston, which just happened to be against a struggling Philadelphia team. Normally, I would just glaze over the highlights of this, but I liked Nava's story. He's just one of four players to hit a grand slam in such fashion (Psst - one of the other three is my boy Kevin Kouzmanoff).
He was an undrafted player who went to play independent ball in 2007. At 24, he got a shot with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League.
Ken Rosenthal had a decent piece on Nava today (link). Here's the part I found very interesting:
He was cut by Santa Clara his freshman year and ended up team manager, washing uniforms. He then left the school because his family couldn’t afford the tuition, played two years at junior college, only to return to Santa Clara — on scholarship — for his senior year.
No major-league team drafted him. The Chico Outlaws of the Independent Golden League cut him. Nava took a year off, thinking — again — that his career might be over. But the Outlaws gave him another shot.
Then, in fall 2007, the Red Sox signed Nava, paying the Outlaws the princely sum of $1 — yes, $1 — for his rights, with an additional $1,499 to follow if he made a minor-league team out of spring training.
Interestingly enough, Nava has cards also in the coveted 2010 Bowman release.The prices on many of his cards did well overnight because of his impressive debut.
Two of the red refractors have popped up on eBay just as his superfractor magically showed up overnight.