Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Damaso Garcia died Wednesday in the Dominican Republic at the age of 63, his son, Damaso Garcia Jr., told ESPN.
Garcia played 11 seasons in the majors and was a two-time All-Star (1984, ’85). He played seven seasons for the Blue Jays and in 1982 won an American League Silver Slugger award.
“It is a sad day for the Dominican baseball community,” said Erick Almonte, president of the Dominican national player federation, the island nation’s players’ union. Garcia, who played for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic, was also a past president of the union.
Garcia was beloved for being part of great double-play combos along with his Dominican compatriots Tony Fernandez and Alfredo Griffin. Fernandez died in February of pneumonia at age 57.
“It is a big loss. He was a historic player for Licey,” said Domingo Pichardo, president of the Dominican winter ball club. “In this short span of time, we have suffered the loss of our greatest double-play combination of the ’80s. We are very sad.”
Garcia, who played for the Dominican national team, was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1975 and first made it to the majors in 1978. He was traded in the 1979 offseason to Toronto along with Chris Chambliss and Paul Mirabella for Tom Underwood, Rick Cerone and Ted Wilborn.
Garcia was fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1980 with three first-place votes. Two years later, he hit .310 to earn the Silver Slugger award.
Garcia also played for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos and hit .283 in 3,914 career at-bats.
Thirty years ago, Garcia had surgery and chemotherapy for a malignant brain tumor. The cancer affected his mobility and speech.