For nine years Mike Garcia was a member of what might be the greatest starting rotation†in baseball history. Along with Bob Feller, Early Wynn, and Bob Lemon, Garcia was part of The Big Four who anchored the rotation for the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s and 1950s. At least three of the four were together in the starting rotation from 1949 to 1957. Garcia was the youngest and last to arrive, joining the Tribe in 1949 and leading the league in ERA in his rookie season. Manager Lou Boudreau gave Garcia†his first starting assignment when Wynn came down with the hives.
Feller, Wynn, and Lemon are all in the Hall of Fame, but Garcia started late and started to grow less effective in his early 30s. Eventually the four split apart at the same time: Feller retiring in 1958; Wynn being traded to the White Sox that same year where he would continue to pile up victories on his way to 300; Lemon suffering a career-ending arm injury. Garcia, who was known as “The Big Bear” because of the way he walked, was the hardest throwing of the four at one time in the 1950s, but his arm and back gave out, and in 1958 he tried to win a spot in the rotation but his arm was pretty much done. He won a total of 142 games, all with Cleveland.
Though he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the big names in the Indian rotation for a few years (averaging 20 wins and a 2.84 ERA from 1951-54), Garcia was not their peer in peak performance nor longevity, but he was still a very good pitcher and a three-time All-Star.
Only six pitchers faced Ted Williams more often than the stocky right-hander Mike Garcia, but he and teammate Bob Lemon did the best job of keeping the Boston slugger in check. Against Garcia, Williams hit 264/356/560. Most impressively, Garcia fanned Ted more than he walked him (14/13).
His best friend and roommate on the Indians was second baseman Bobby Avila, for a long time the only other Spanish-speaking member of the club.