Never a star, Garcia was a lifer who devoted himself to baseball while toiling in obscurity in the minors, as a teammate and manager of future major leaguers like the pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm and Bill White. And finally, when Garcia became a major league manager — one of the first Hispanics to hold the job — his time at the helm of mediocre teams was fleeting. His was a baseball life outside the spotlight but doggedly loyal to the game, to the end.
“His knowledge of the game was second to none,” said Buddy Bell, the former All-Star player who, as the manager of the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, hired the octogenarian Garcia as a coach in the 2000s. In a telephone interview, he added: “He showed a lot of compassion, and even in his 80s he was still on top of everything.”
Garcia’s death, at an assisted living facility, was confirmed by his son, David.
David Garcia was born on Sept. 15, 1920, in East St. Louis, Ill. His father, Benito, variously worked in a zinc factory, owned a bar and delivered ice. He and his wife, Encarnacion (Menendez) Garcia, were immigrants from Asturias, Spain.
When David was 11, his father died, and his mother went to work in a shirt factory to support her five children. He helped out by selling newspapers in downtown East St. Louis.
Garcia signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns in 1938. Sent to its minor-league team in Springfield, Ill., he was hit in the head by a pitch and did not return to play for more than a year. He subsequently tore up a knee while playing in Lake Charles, La., and broke a leg in Eau Claire, Wis.