Serious fans of a certain age may remember Kiko Garcia, an undersized infielder who played for the Orioles, Astros and Phillies in the '70s and '80s. Garcia hit only 12 career home runs and in 1979, with Baltimore, had more errors (27) than RBIs (24), but the Martinez, Calif., native batted .400 in the '79 World Series and stuck in the big leagues for 10 seasons. If nothing else, he could always say he was the most prominent baseball-playing Kiko to come out of the Golden State.
Until now. The former big leaguer has competition for that title in the person of ... Kiko Garcia, a 13-year-old who led Chula Vista, Calif., to the Little League World Series championship on Sunday. The U.S. champs, from Park View Little League in the San Diego suburb, stormed back from a 3--0 deficit to beat Chinese Taipei 6--3 in the final, thanks in no small part to 31/3 innings of scoreless relief from Garcia. "We knew we could come back," said Garcia, who isn't related to his major league namesake. "We always do."
Actually, Chula Vista spent most of the tournament burying opponents. The team hit a World Series--record 19 home runs, including three each by Garcia, an outfielder when he wasn't on the mound, first baseman--pitcher Luke Ramirez and shortstop Andy Rios. In six games Chula Vista outscored its opponents 61--21, including a 12--2 drubbing of Texas in the U.S. final. Said Garcia, who hit a team-high .667 in the Series, "We knew we could hit any kind of pitching."
The U.S. has now won five straight Little League World Series, its longest streak since a string of eight in a row from 1959 to '66. But the boys from Chula Vista were especially flush with pride on Sunday. There will be a parade in their hometown on Friday, and they'll be honored at the Chargers' Sept. 20 home opener. "It seems San Diego comes so close all the time," said manager Oscar Castro. "The Padres come close and don't win. The Chargers come close and don't win. It was nice to do it for the city."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Former NHL coach Jacques Demers, who admitted in 2005 that he was functionally illiterate, was appointed to Canada's Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
AL TIELEMANS (GARCIA)
POWER MOWER Kiko's lights-out relief aided Chula Vista's comeback.