Welcome back, Nols: A tribute to the first chapter of Aaron Nola's Phillies career

As he heads into Year 10 in the big leagues, Nola remains the Phillies' longest-tenured player.
Aaron Nola re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The stoic Nola finally let his emotions show for the fans

When the two sides weren't able to work out an extension ahead of the 2023 season, it felt inevitable that we'd end up in a situation where Nola was on his way out of the city.

Nola has been known for keeping his emotions close to his chest, rarely putting on an outward display.

When talking to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com after the team clinched a spot in the 2022 postseason, Nola had the following to say: "I've always thought that if you don’t show any emotion, nobody can really pick up on it. ... If you give up a bad hit, what are you going to do about it? Mope? That makes it worse because then you make another bad pitch and it spirals. The only thing you can do is focus on the next pitch."

At various points throughout the 2023 season, though, the usually calm, cool and collected Nola let his emotions show more than usual, a sign that many took to mean the end of his tenure in Philadelphia was fast approaching. 

After tipping his cap to the standing crowd as he walked off the mound for what could have been his final regular-season start in Philadelphia for the home team, he was asked about his motivation behind the move.

"I've never done it before. I thought it was awesome. The fans were loud. They were in it the whole game. It was fun. Last home game of the season for me. Up and down season. Inconsistent. Tough one, man. Struggles. Successes. So, it was good to end on a note like that. ... I don't know what's going to happen, but I tried to soak it in as much as possible and cherish it as much as possible last week," Nola said, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic.

He repeated the move when leaving the field after getting the job done in 5 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

Through all of the appreciation shown to the fans, though, one truth prevailed: Nola wanted to be a member of the Phillies.

As Nola wrote for The Players' Tribune in 2019 about adjusting to the city: "And it gradually got to a point where Philly began to feel like home. ... I love the place. Coming back from road trips and driving up to the stadium, I can take a deep breath….We’re back home. I mean, for me, this is the best place in the world to play."

Community involvement plays a big part in Nola's time in Philadelphia

Nola's impact extends beyond the game of baseball, though.

For Nola and his family, including wife Hunter, putting in time and effort away from the field has always been just as important — if not more so — as what happens on the diamond, and he has repeatedly proved that to Philadelphia and the surrounding communities.

Gelb detailed a 2019 trip to a children’s hospital in Delaware, where he interacted with the patients and talked to the Phanatic for kids when they were too shy to do it themselves.

Reflecting on the fact that his position allows him to make a difference, he said: "When you get called up to the major leagues, everything is kind of a whirlwind. There is a lot more to life than baseball. There is more importance to things like this than on the field."

In 2020, the team nominated him for the Roberto Clemente Award for his work across numerous charities and organizations, including the ALS Association, Shred Hate, Philadelphia Futures, Philabundance, and Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania. 

Referencing the importance of giving back, Nola told Zolecki: "It's a priority. Baseball obviously is a hard game. It can bring you up; it can knock you down. But at the end of the day our goal is to help others. Do everything we can. Because baseball is not going to last forever. But what you do and how you do it can last a long time."

NEXT: Nola's storybook ending is still possible