Daniel Nava’s journey to the major leagues culminated in unforgettable fashion with the very first pitch he saw in the big leagues on Saturday.
However, Daniel’s story is one that is even more inspirational than that one pitch. Nava attended high school in Mountain View, California at St. Francis High School. As a teen, Nava was one of those kids that seemed to always wonder when his growth spurt would finally visit.
In high school, it never came. In fact there were times in high school that Nava wouldn’t even hit for himself due to his size.
After high school Daniel tried out for the Santa Clara University baseball team, after again finding out that he wasn’t big enough, his direction took a slight detour. After not making the team Daniel became the Santa Clara team manager, where he found himself doing laundry and planning the possibilities of a career as a baseball coach rather than a player.
Finally, as he moved into his early twenties, the growth spurt came. Daniel Nava went to school at San Mateo Junior College, and became an All American for their baseball team. Then after two years, returned to Santa Clara University with his new found size, and his updated resume which included now included All American honors. Nava would lead Santa Clara, and the West Coast Conference in batting in 2006.
Unfortunately for Daniel Nava, things still didn’t go as easy as they could have. Despite being the best hitter in the West Coast Conference, Nava still went un-drafted. Never one to give up, Nava would find a way to play the game.
He signed with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. Once again Nava led the team with his performance at the plate. He went on to be named to the Baseball America Independent League First-Team All-Star squad and also ranked as their top independent league prospect after hitting a league leading .371 batting average. He also added 12 homers and 59 RBI’s as the Outlaws went on to win the championship in the 2007 Golden Baseball League.
It was then when Daniel finally got the attention of the big leagues, well, sort of. The Boston Red Sox purchased the contract of Nava for $1. Promising to dish out the rest of the $1499, if and when Nava made it through the minor league system.
Nava, went on to be a top performing hitter for Single-A Lancaster in 2008, then followed it up with a .352 batting average over his time spent in in Double-A and Triple-A last season.
While playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Indianapolis last week, his parents were able to see him play for the first time in two years. It was shortly after that Nava got the call to make the last leg of his journey. The call that every minor league baseball player listens for. He was going to Boston. Finally.
Nava’s parents quickly booked flights to Bean Town to be there in the stands to watch their son make his Major League debut. Leaving their luggage at the airport for fear that they would be late for the game, Daniel’s parents were sitting in the stands when Nava came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning.
Daniel didn’t disappoint.
After a pre-game show with Red Sox announcers, where the last thing that was said was, “Hit that first pitch out, you only have one chance,” Daniel did exactly that. With the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, Daniel Nava crushed a grand slam home run, putting the Red Sox ahead for good, and putting the final exclamation point on his inspirational journey to the big leagues.