Ramon Garza: A Proud Heritage
My phone call with Garza was as much about baseball as it was a crash course in Cuban revolutionary history. Garza’s paternal family fled Cuba as Fidel Castro began his armed revolt against President Fulgencio Batista, replacing the government with a communist state.
Moreover, Garza’s maternal grandfather was an outspoken anti-communist protester. When caught by authorities, he was confronted with a decision: imprisonment in Cuba, or banishment to America. Thankfully for Cornell baseball, his grandfather chose the latter.
Standing at six feet tall with a strong, yet nimble build, Garza has earned his rank not only as an efficient batter, but also as the starting shortstop for the Big Red. With a nearly 90% fielding percentage and more than a few double plays, Garza’s presence is already being felt in a multitude of ways. Not to mention, he is succeeding in spite of the challenge of playing on a turf field, a domain that is starkly unfamiliar to the Texas native.
When asked what the biggest difference was between high school and college baseball, Garza was quick to respond. “It is a faster pace. People can get down the line a lot quicker. The breaking balls are a lot better, and fastballs are faster.” While recognizing these differences, Garza is also keenly aware of a fundamental truth. “In the end, you know, it’s still baseball. You can control what you can control.” In many ways, Garza’s mature understanding of baseball is what has driven his strong performance as he looks to help his team bounce back from a rough start.
The Big Red are currently standing at 2-7 in Ivy League play, dropping two of three games to Dartmouth this past weekend. Next week, the team will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Quakers, succeeded by a single game at Binghamton, and a three game stint against Harvard.
Despite the Big Red’s unfavorable record, Garza’s optimism toward the remainder of the season is unwavering. He firmly believes in the message that Coach Pepicelli told him during recruitment. “How the game is played is more important than the results.” Garza has emulated this principle since his high school days in San Antonio, Texas, leading his team to regional and district championships, and a second-place finish in the coveted state championship. Though Garza can boast individual awards (San Antonio High School All-Star, Texas High School All Star Honors, member of the Math Honor Society and National Hispanic Merit Scholar), he has always prided himself on maintaining a positive attitude, displaying strong leadership skills, and having a deep sense of appreciation for being able to play the sport he loves.
As a team oriented player, Garza has been heavily communicative with upperclassman, noting that between the team’s talent and great senior leadership, the Big Red will pose an “extremely dangerous” threat toward the end of the season. “You never know,” Garza said, “baseball can turn in your favor really quick… we’re gonna be good when it does.”
So in the coming years, when #21 makes an amazing diving play at shortstop, turns an acrobatic double play, or crushes a ball over the fence of Hoy Field, don’t just admire the raw talent. Instead, keep in mind that he is a first-generation American, whose focus and grit have granted him the opportunity to continue a fruitful family tradition of playing baseball.