Retired all-star second baseman Damaso Garcia has died in the Dominican Republic at age 63, according to a report from ESPNdeportes’ Enrique Rojas. Garcia played seven seasons with the Blue Jays, from 1980 to 1986 and was a two-time All-Star Game participant, in 1984 and 1985. He won a Silver Slugger award in 1982, hitting .310/.338/.399 at second base.
Garcia—or “Damo” as he was known to his teammates and fans—was signed by Yankees (and later Blue Jays) scout Epy Guerrero as an international free agent in 1975 and made his major league debut with the Bronx Bombers three years later. In the 1979-1980 offseason he was traded to the Blue Jays along with Chris Chambliss and Paul Mirabella in exchange for Rick Cerone, Tom Underwood and Ted Wilborn. He would spend the next seven seasons in Toronto before he was flipped to the Braves, along with Luis Leal, for Craig McMurtry before spring training 1987. He did not play the 1987 season but got in 21 games with the Braves in 1988 before hopping over to the Expos in 1989 where he would finish his major league career.
Garcia had been struggling with his health since his retirement, having undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour in the early 1990s, which impaired his ability to speak.
He did not have a happy departure from the Blue Jays. In 1986 he burned his Blue Jays uniform after a game with the Athletics, which led to manager Jimy Williams chewing him out in front of the entire team. But things seemed to have been patched up by 1992, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch of game 1 of the ALCS to Alfredo Griffin. It was reported that he appeared with a large scar on his scalp and had been undergoing chemotherapy for a year after his brain surgery. It was Epy Guerrero who called him to let him know that the Blue Jays wanted him to be at the ALCS.
Damo was able to attend the funeral of his double play partner Tony Fernandez earlier this year, and many of his former Blue Jays teammates were able to see him for one last time. They reported that Damo was not doing well, but was generally aware of where he was and that he recognized his old friends.