Monday, April 18, 2011

#142 - Pedro Garcia

This is the second card in a row that represents the player's first solo card. Like Pat Bourque on the last post, Pedro Garcia had a rookie card in '73. Now this guy's pretty happy and his positive attitude shows in his photo. I am pretty sure it was taken in Oakland, since that's where a bunch of his teammates' photos were shot. Pedro had a pretty bang-up rookie season, co-leading the AL in doubles while providing solid defense and becoming the first guy in franchise history to put in a full season at his position. Unfortunately Pedro's career pretty much peaked his first year. Thereafter it was all more or less a protracted sophomore slump.

Pedro Garcia was discovered playing ball in PR by the Seattle Pilots Latin American scout in '69. He was from a family of nine kids and after signed that season would play Rookie and Single A ball, more at shortstop than at second base. He'd played shortstop growing up but since the Pilots/Brewers had Rick Auerbach ahead of him there, Pedro agreed to the shift and in the minors would spend a bunch of time perfecting his pivot. He was a free swinger and though he displayed some pretty good power for a middle infielder, he also struck out a ton. In '70 he hit north of .300 in A ball and in '71 he jumped all the way to Triple A Evansville. His scouting report that year noted his power and projected him as a big leaguer in a couple years. In '72 he returned to Evansville, boosted his average 50 points and made the league All-Star team.

In '73 Pedro got the second base job during spring training and tightly held onto it, playing 160 games. He and Tim Johnson solidified the middle infield, helping the Brewers improve significantly . He also hit pretty well and his 32 doubles would tie for the league lead (with Sal Bando). He would finish second in '73 AL ROY voting but would not get a spot on either the Topps or Baseball Digest Rookie All-Star teams. He also struck out 119 times that year and while that may have been OK for an up-and-coming infielder whose average and power were expected to increase, it wasn't when in '74 his average sunk below .200. While Pedro's power numbers were up (12 homers and 54 RBIs in over 125 less at bats), he would lose playing time to Johnson, himself pushed over by Robin Yount's addition to the line-up. In '75 Pedro led league second basemen in fielding and his average improved, but not enough to prevent losing more time, now to Kurt Bevacqua and Bob Sheldon. After a .217 start with zero power in '76 Pedro was traded to Detroit even up for Gary Sutherland. For the Tigers he got a little more playing time but his average sunk below .200 again and after the season he was released. He signed as a free agent with the new Toronto Blue Jays and, although he hit ten doubles in 130 at bats, really couldn't get things going and was released in June. He then signed with San Diego and played both second and third for the Padres' Triple A club in Hawaii. There he hit .300 and actually had a decent .371 OBA. In '78 he played a full season at Hawaii, hitting .251. He was released following that season and that was it. For his major league career Pedro hit .220 with 37 homers and 184 RBIs, as well as 89 doubles.

Garcia played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas in PR and his '73-'74 team was the Caribbean Series champ. The team also had Willie Montanez, Mike Schmidt, Felix Millan, and Jay Johnstone, among other major leaguers. Like a bunch of other Latin players there is next to nothing about him since he played.

The best thing about this card is the birthdate which was yesterday. The cartoon is lame but the music theme makes for a good bit of trivia. Pedro is the guy who noticed that one of Oakland's batboys bore a striking resemblance to Hank Aaron. He then nicknamed the kid Hammer after Hank's nickname. Thus was born M.C. Hammer.

Time to dredge up some names, but I've used one of these guys before:

1. Garcia and Dave May '73 to '74 Brewers;
2. May and Claudell Washington '77 Rangers;
3. Washington and Pat Bourque '74 A's.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Pedro Garcia is immortal with that MC Hammer tag. I didn't know that.