May 18 – Happy Birthday Rich Garcés

51L9ZKD1ddL._SY300_Red Sox Nation loved their “El Guapo,” all six feet and two hundred and fifty pounds of him. Born in Venezuela, Garces was signed by Minnesota as an amateur free agent in 1988, when he was just 17 years old. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 1990 but could not stick with the parent club. Minnesota gave up on him in 1995 and so did the Cubs and Marlins.

The Red Sox then signed Garces that December and he spent the next three years bouncing back and forth between Pawtucket and Boston’s bullpen. It wasn’t until the second half of the 1999 season that he could finally unpack his suitcase for good and he was more than ready. He went 5-1 and posted an excellent ERA of 1.55.

In 2000 he won eight of nine decisions and became a Fenway fan favorite. As soon as he’d emerge from the Boston home dugout, the crowd would begin chanting his nickname. His magic continued in 2001, when he went 6-1, making his three year record 19-3. Then for some reason, the Red Sox front office insisted he lose weight during the offseason. He did as they asked but in addition to losing that weight, he lost his fastball and his ERA in 2002 shot up to 7.59. After that season. Garces never again pitched in a big league game.

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