Like every boy in Alvin Texas, Nathan Eovaldi grew up seeing the statue honoring that town’s most famous resident. Nathan was just two years old when Nolan Ryan was immortalized in bronze in his hometown.
Like every boy in Alvin, Texas, Nathan dreamed of following in Nolan’s footsteps. Unlike many of those boys, Alvin, Texas history—Nathan did it. He took the monumental step from Alvin to the big leagues.
Forty-five years after ‘Big Tex’ debuted with the Mets, Nathan pitched his first game for the Dodgers.
Armed with a wicked four-seam fastball Nathan, an 11th round pick out of high school, quickly climbed through the Dodgers minor league organization. He made his major league debut just three years after being drafted.
He got a win against the Diamondbacks that day while striking out seven. He helped his own cause too, as he singled and scored a run.
The Dodgers traded him to the Marlins where he spent a couple of years honing his craft and perfecting his four pitch arsenal. From there, he was traded to the Yankees for the 2015 season when he developed a split-finger fastball. With five distinct pitches at his disposal, the results were almost immediate. From late June until late August that season he was 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA. He finished the season 14-3 but his year ended when elbow inflammation shut him down.
He started 2016 healthy but a second Tommy John surgery loomed for Nathan. His first one came in high school, this one shut him down for a full year and a half and forced another change of scenery. On May 30, 2018 nearly eighteen full months since his last big league start, Eovaldi toed the rubber for the Tampa Bay Rays.
He threw six no hit innings against the A’s but was relieved due to pitch count considerations.
Nathan was back! And later that summer he was traded to Boston. 2018 was a special year for the Red Sox and Nathan was a big part of it all. He got a win against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS. He also won Game 3 of the ALCS against his former hometown team the Astros.
Game three of the World Series was the longest game in the history of the Fall Classic. Nathan was scheduled to pitch game four but was needed in the 18 inning marathon. He threw 97 pitches in relief over six innings. And despite the fact that the Dodgers won that game in walk off fashion, Eovaldi got a standing ovation from his teammates when he entered the clubhouse.
Besides, all’s well that ends well as the Red Sox won the next two games to take the World Series.
The Red Sox signed him to a four year contract and he continued to shine. He was named an American League All-Star in 2021 and appeared as the Red Sox’ opening day starter in 2020, ‘21 and ‘22.
But now he is a part of the Rangers re-tooled rotation.
Nathan Eovaldi is back where he belongs, back home in Texas and each day when he goes to work, he passes a statue of Nolan Ryan. Maybe history does repeat itself.