Player: Damaso Garcia was a young soccer star in the Dominican Republic before he signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1975. After a few years in the minors he batted 82 times with New York over the 1978 and '79 season before he was traded to the Blue Jays. In Toronto, Garcia was the starting second baseman and finished 4th in the 1980 AL Rookie of the Year voting after posting a .278 batting average.
Injuries and the strike limited Garcia to 64 games in 1981. He saw his average slip to .252 but he would rebound with a great year in '82. Garcia batted .310, stole 54 bases, and provided slick defense. He won a Silver Slugger award and the only thing missing in his game was patience at the plate as he walked only 21 times in 629 plate appearances.
Garcia had another decent year in '83 batting .307 with 31 more steals. He batted in the .280's each of the next three years and represented the Jays at the All Star game in '84 and '85. A bad knee slowed him down and in time his steals went from 46 to 28 to only 9 in the '96 season.
Garcia was traded to the Braves prior to the '87 season, but did not play all season as he suffered another leg injury in spring training. He came back in '88 and he had three hits in the opener. He had just four hits in his next 53 at bats and was released.
The Dodgers gave him a chance in the minors but he didn't appear in the majors with Los Angeles. Garcia played for the Expos in '89 and batted .271 in 80 games. He returned to the Yankee organization in 1990 but failed to make the team and subsequently retired at age 32.
Flipside: Garcia's 54 stolen bases were a career high but he had only 17 through July 1st. Over his next 70 games he stole 37 bases.
Oddball: Blue Jay manager Bobby Mattcik had Garcia (.371 lifetime SLG%) bat cleanup twice during the 1980 season- against lefties Ron Guidry and Ross Baumgarten.
Garcia was known as a bit of a hot head during his time with Toronto. He got into a brief altercation with the much larger Cliff Johnson in a batting practice disagreement in 1986.
History: Garcia established himself as a good player for the Blue Jays when they were fighting for respectability in the American League. As the team improved he was able to help them to the playoffs in 1985. He batted .233 with four doubles in Toronto's seven game loss to Kansas City in the ALCS.
Garcia has battled health problems after a brain tumor nearly took him out a year after he retired. Since then he has run baseball / health clinics for children in his native DR.