With no Major League Baseball yet in 2020, we’ve had to look elsewhere for stories of the world’s greatest sport.™ For this story, allow me to walk you down memory lane a ways to the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six. Two legends were born in that year; one being the author of this article (but that’s not our focus right now). Some of you may not have been alive at that time, others of you may have fond memories of that year, but there might be one name from the 1996 season you have all but forgotten about. Here, I tell you the tale of the legend of Tim Naehring.
Let Me Give You a Rundown on Tim Naehring
Timothy James Naehring was drafted in the 8th round of the 1988 MLB draft and was a fairly decent hitter throughout his time in the minor leagues. His fielding, however, was another story. In 58 games at shortstop in A ball, he had 26 errors for a .917 fielding percentage. Yikes! He worked to reduce this to 12 in the next year before jumping up to AAA but still had trouble at shortstop. However, he did play 20 games at 3rd, committing only one error.
Tim broke into the big leagues in 1990, playing in 24 games and, overall, performing decently at the young age of 23 before missing the last month of the season with a back injury. He started out the 1991 season with Boston and played rather poorly before again getting injured and missing the rest of the season. 1992 saw his numbers climb back up some, and he split the 1993 season between Pawtucket and Boston after starting the year on the DL. In his short playing time, he performed brilliantly, batting .331 with an .810 OPS in 39 games with the Red Sox. After this season Naehring became a fixture on Boston’s 25 man roster for the rest of his career.
Remember when I said that Naehring had some trouble fielding at shortstop? Well, thankfully, he didn’t have to worry much about that after the 1992 season. A string of very good seasons by John Valentin and later Nomar Garciaparra led to Naehring moving away from shortstop. In 1994, he saw time all around the infield but played 49 of his 80 games at second before playing third almost exclusively the rest of his career. He only played one third of an inning at any other position.
The Legend Begins
1995 was the year Naehring finally was able to play a full season in the major leagues. He tallied 126 games with a slash line of .307 AVG/.415 OBP/.448 SLG (registering an .863 OPS and a 123 OPS+, for those that are into more advanced stats). He continued this tear into the next season and partially the season after, before another surgery in June 1997. A final surgery in May 1998 would officially end his career.
Despite his short time playing for the Sox, Naehring found himself as one of the players Sox fans seemed to believe could do no wrong, earning a cult following in his time with the club. Part of this, no doubt, was his good looks, but also his apparent luck with being able to deliver in a few clutch moments. One of these was on June 26th, 1996, against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway. Neahring came to bat in the bottom of the 15th inning, with a runner on first and one out. The game had already been going on for 5 hours and 14 minutes, and Naehring decided that had been enough. He’d already tied the game with a liner to left in the 9th, and this time he would end it. On the first pitch he saw from Alan Embree, he smashed the ball over the Monster for a two-run homer. When asked about the hit, he said “I just wanted to get it over with.”
And just like that, the Legend of Tim Naehring was born. May it be remembered among Red Sox fans for generations.
One last note:
If you were wondering about the featured photo, my father had taken me to a car show sometime in the fall of 1996 and Tim Naehring was signing autographs at the event. Apparently, I fell asleep by the time we made it through the line, and my dad asked Tim to hold me up while he took a picture. The rest, they say, is history.
-Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter)
P.S.- If you want to look up more about Tim Naehring, feel free to look at these resources I used for this article:
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