"You know they spent some money on that to get all the letters on," said Nomar Garciaparra, about to enter the second season of his Dodgers homecoming.
While the jokes often touched on the financial, the message Garciaparra and his teammates delivered to students was educational. During a question-and-answer session, Garciaparra was asked what he took from high school that he carried to the Major Leagues.
"It might have been my attitude in the classroom," he said. "I set goals in school. I set out to get a 4.0 (grade-point average) and I did it. I went to college and set out to make the dean's list. If I can do this, you can. You can be anything you want to be."
The turnout not only included current students and faculty at the school, but a large group of Garciaparra family members, including the first baseman's parents.
"I thank my parents all the time for sending me here," he said of the private school. "This is where my true friends came from and I'm still close to them. I'm grateful for that. I thought it was tough in class here, but it got me ready for college and the world. I was blessed."
Dodgers executive Tom Lasorda also addressed the students.
"Like this young man," Lasorda said, referring to Garciaparra, "you too can follow in his footsteps. He's a tremendous role model. You should want to grow up and be like him."
Garciaparra and Lasorda were joined on the visit by general manager Ned Colletti, current players Mike Lieberthal, James Loney and Takashi Saito and former Dodgers Bill Mueller, Ken Landreaux and Bobby Castillo.
Lieberthal teased Garciaparra about the condition of the school's sports facility, suggesting a player with a new two-year, $17 million contract should make a donation. Mueller piled on, raising the possibility that Garciaparra provide the school with a new running track.
Garciaparra took up the challenge before leaving, promising to host the entire student body at a Dodgers game this year. He also was presented with a framed jersey by the school's baseball team.
The visit ended with Garciaparra wading into the crowd to shake hands and pose for photos, flanked by sheriff's deputies for protection.
The visit to Garciaparra's high school followed a similar stop at Ocean View Elementary School in Garciaparra's childhood hometown of Whittier.
"I grew up here like you guys," he told students there. "I remember the Dodgers coming to my school, just like this."