Getty Images

Former Angels, Indians manager Dave Garcia devoted his life to baseball

Dave Garcia spent his life in baseball as a player, scout, coach and manager. For more than 60 years, Garcia was working in some capacity in the game. Garcia died May 22 at the age of 97.

Baseball was more than a game to Garcia; it was like a religion and a ballpark was his cathedral.

“That’s like being able to go to church on Sunday for a Catholic,” Garcia’s son, Dave, told the New York Times in 2009. “If you were homebound and the priest came to you, it’s different than if you go and walk into the cathedral and see the candles.”

Dave Garcia (Padres, MLB)

The East St. Louis native got his start in professional baseball as a minor league infielder in 1939. He spent 15 seasons over 18 years in the minor leagues, mostly with the New York Giants. Garcia missed the seasons from 1943 to 1945 while serving in the Air Force during World War II.

During his time playing in the minors, Garcia was a player-manager for the Knoxville Smokies, the Giants’ Class B farm team in the Tri-State League. He was also a coach for the Minneapolis Millers, which was the Giants’ Triple-A team, in 1956.

Finally retiring as a player in 1957, Garcia stayed with the Giants as a scout and also managed the El Paso Sun Kings, which was the Giants’ Double-A club.

Garcia left the Giants organization following the 1968 season to join the expansion San Diego Padres as a minor league manager. After waiting 31 years, Garcia finally reached the majors the following season as a coach on the Padres staff. He spent four seasons on the Padres staff before returning to El Paso, which was then home to the California Angels’ Double-A club.

A return to the majors followed in 1975, when Garcia joined the coaching staff of the Cleveland Indians. He was with the Indians for two seasons before joining the Angels staff in 1977.

Garcia finally got his break in 1978 at the age of 57 when he was promoted to manager of the Angels after when Norm Sherry was fired on July 11.

Garcia’s Angels went 35-46 the rest of the season and were 25-21 the next year when Garcia was replaced by Jim Fregosi as manager on June 1, 1978.

Garcia returned to Cleveland got another managerial shot in 1979 when Jeff Torborg was fired on July 22. The Indians went 38-28 under Garcia, who was hired as the full-time manager following the season. That initial success didn’t last as the Indians hovered around .500 under Garcia, whose record with the Indians was 247-244. He had an overall managerial record of 307-311.

As a minor league manager in the Giants, Padres and Angels organizations, Garcia went 890-785 with three league championships.

Garcia joined the staff of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1983 and spent two years as a coach before transitioning back into scouting. He also scouted for the Kansas City Royals and finished his baseball career in 2002 following a three-year stint on the coaching staff of the Colorado Rockies under manager Buddy Bell.

A deeper dig into Garcia’s baseball career reveals stops in Mexico, Lake Charles, La., Oshkosh, Wis., and Danville, Va.

Garcia spent his retirement years living in San Diego and was a regular at Padres games.

Garcia was married to his wife, Carmen, for 52 years until her death in 1994. The couple had two grandsons playing professional baseball. Greg Garcia is an infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals and Drew Garcia spent eight years in the Chicago White Sox farm system.

The love of baseball is more of a hereditary trait in the Garcia family.

“I never want to work for a living,” Drew Garcia said after he was drafted by the White Sox in 2008. “I want to be in baseball.”

It’s the family business.