"Later that year we were playing the Rays and I walked up to the plate, and Kelly Shoppach started joking, ‘Hey man, what’s going on?’ He looks up at the Jumbotron and sees the ‘1’ under the home run stat line. He says, “Are you the guy who hit the home run on the first pitch?’ I said, ‘That’s me.’ And he goes, ‘You’ve done nothing since?’
"I’m grateful I got more opportunities more than that one time, but if that was all there ever was I never expected it to happen so I’m very grateful it did.
The 37-year-old Nava -- who initially cost the Red Sox $1 to secure his services out of Independent League baseball -- went on to experience plenty of notable moments beyond just that one home run. In a career that stretched from 2010-17, he played in 598 career games, both in regular season and postseason, hitting 29 homers while totaling a career batting average .265 and OPS of .734.
"I was frustrated, to say the least, that that was going on," said Nava of baseball paring down its number of minor leaguers. "There are guys like myself who clearly wouldn’t have gotten a shot. If this concept continues, where we’re minimizing the ability for guys to pursue their dreams, and that’s really what it is … When I was playing my goal and my dream was to play in the big leagues. It’s going to limit the opportunity for so many guys. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I know I wouldn’t have had a shot. Why? There is no room for me. There isn’t a roster spot to give a guy from Indy Ball a chance. It’s too bad."
It hits home for Nava.
He represents the perfect example of a player who in this world of increasingly limited opportunities would have never gotten his moment or career. It's why when he saw the comments from Royals general manager Dayton Moore regarding the importance of keeping the lowest level of minor leaguers, it prompted Nava to resurface on social media.
"I did see what he said and I’m very rarely on Twitter and I happened to retweet that because the is the epitome of what makes our game so great," he said "There is no size limitation. Anyone at any place, from the tallest to the smallest to the biggest can be successful. Once you start closing the window on giving people opportunities to dream you’re starting to change aspects of people's ability to believe in something they normally would believe in. Baseball provides an opportunity.