One of the first
things you notice about Garcia is that he isn't comfortable talking about
himself. He was born in Los Angeles, attended the University of Nevada-Las
Vegas and speaks English and Spanish equally well. But he gives short answers,
fiddles with his cigarette between questions, averts his eyes.
"You were 20-5
last year, right?"
of the year?"
24 of 26 games and had an ERA of 1.83?"
If you check his
stats and ask around you learn that Garcia has won more than 100 games and
struck out more than 1,000 batters in his seven-year Mexican League career.
Batters who hit against him talk with reverence about his hard slider. "The
best in this league," says Andrés Mora. Mike Kekich believes he's the best
pitcher in the league. "I would say 30 to 40 percent of the pitchers I saw
in my years in the majors didn't have his strength and his stuff," says
The major league
record book has a few lines under Garcia's name. In 1972 and again in 1974 he
pitched briefly for the San Diego Padres. His last pitch in the majors was to
Dave Concepcion—a grand slam. "It was a fastball. I knew it was gone,"
There have been
other flirtations with the major leagues. He went to spring training with the
White Sox in 1978, but never pitched in a game. The Twins invited him to camp
in 1981, but the Indios wanted $20,000 to let him go. That chased the Twins
off. This past spring the California Angels inquired about having him try out,
but that's as far as it went. Just another busted opportunity.