SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- If you’ve never met a batboy with his own bobblehead before, then you’ve never met “Big Mike” Garcia. He’s been a beloved ballpark presence for the past decade, establishing his reputation with the Sugar Land Skeeters/Space Cowboys before moving on to the San Antonio Missions this
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- If you’ve never met a batboy with his own bobblehead before, then you’ve never met “Big Mike” Garcia. He’s been a beloved ballpark presence for the past decade, establishing his reputation with the Sugar Land Skeeters/Space Cowboys before moving on to the San Antonio Missions this season.
“I get to watch good baseball games every single day, get the crowd pumped up,” said Garcia, speaking from the home dugout at San Antonio’s Nelson Wolff Stadium prior to May 20’s ballgame. “I’m always about the players and the fans and I show it off, my hard work. That’s why they call me ‘Big Mike.’”
Garcia’s experience as a bat boy goes back to his days attending Clements High School, located in Sugar Land. He worked with a talented team that went to the state championships, and still keeps in touch with its alumni (including pitcher John King, now with the Texas Rangers).
“It’s a true blessing for me. I always wanted to work for a professional team, since high school days,” said Garcia. “Right after high school I went to the Sugar Land Skeeters and just kept on following my dreams.”
Sugar Land’s team, based out of Constellation Field, was bought by the Houston Astros prior to the 2021 season and now serves as the organization’s Triple-A affiliate. The franchise was originally established in 2012 as the Skeeters, operating out of the independent Atlantic League. Garcia was with the Skeeters from the beginning, his path to the pros abetted by a team program dedicated to hiring individuals with special needs.
“I had a job coach that helps people with disabilities get jobs, and I just went to the job fair and they liked me,” said Garcia.
Like gave way to love, as Garcia became a favorite of players and fans alike due to his positive spirit and on-field hustle, a trait indicative of his indefatigable work ethic.
“Mike was such an integral part of our ballpark experience and is a part of the fabric of our franchise’s identity,” said Sugar Land Space Cowboys general manager Tyler Stamm. “Fans knew that when they came to Constellation Field, they were going to see No. 99 in the dugout with his trademark smile and hard-working attitude.”
In 2016 the Skeeters gave away “Big Mike” bobbleheads, an honor usually reserved for top prospects and established stars.
“I really never asked for it, but I work really hard for what I do and everybody appreciates me and it came out and I was really shocked about it,” said Garcia. “I’m very happy and blessed to have one.”
Garcia and his mother moved to San Antonio prior to the 2022 season. He said he misses Sugar Land, because “It was like family to me.” Fortunately, the Missions -- Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres -- gave him an opportunity to pick up right where he left off. He said he's formed strong relationships with the team’s players, mentioning Brandon Dixon and Chandler Seagle as particularly supportive.
“We’re close. I don’t have any brothers so I treat them like my brothers,” he said.
Working alongside his ballpark brothers, Garcia shows up every day knowing what he needs to do and getting it done.
“I get here, I stock the fridge up with waters and take out the trash,” he said. “Then I make ice water for the game, put two coolers out for ice water. Then after batting practice I make the Powerade and I bring it out on the field. And then the towels, gum and seeds for the game and then the baseballs and the hitter’s bags. And then I take out more trash, then get ready for the National Anthem and first pitch.”
And then comes the best part.
“Game time," said Garcia, with a smile.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.