NASHUA, N.H. — Now four years removed from his final at-bat with the Red Sox, Brian Daubach couldn't help but notice a different feel around Boston in his first visit back to Fenway Park on opening day.
"I can tell how much more positive Red Sox fans are now," said Daubach. "Even though Boston has struggled a little (recently), it seems like fans believe they'll find a way to pull it out in the end instead of lose the lead like before. But I guess that's what winning will do for you."
Six years removed from his final full season in Boston and three years after his last major league game, Daubach is back in baseball as the hitting coach for the Nashua Pride of the independent Can-Am League.
"I'm excited," he said. "This is a great place to start and is a good opportunity. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the experience."
After spending seven years in the minor leagues with the New York Mets and Florida Marlins, Daubach broke out in his first year with the Red Sox in 1999. The 28-year-old hit .294 with 21 home runs and 73 RBIs and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Daubach spent four seasons (1999-2002) as Boston's primary first baseman, replacing 1995 American League MVP Mo Vaughn. In 511 games he hit .266 with 104 home runs and 298 RBIs. He also became a fan favorite thanks to his hard-nosed play, earning him the title of "Dirt Dog" along with teammate Trot Nixon.
"I think it was because I came out of nowhere and people thought I overachieved," he said. "I always gave my all, and people appreciated that. And I was a little superstitious, with changing my facial hair. But I think that was because Nomar (Garciaparra), the most superstitious man in the world, rubbed off on me."