Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s manager Tom Bush has been involved with American Legion Baseball for several years.
He’s seen a lot of things happen on the diamond, but what he witnessed on June 16 was a first.
Recent Blue Springs High School graduate and A’s first baseman Christian Garcia hit four home runs in one game in a 13-0 mercy-rule win over Bethany.
Garcia said his rare feat ended up being a lonely celebration for him as his team gave him the silent treatment after he went 5-for-5 and drove in nine runs.
“The batter in front of me hit a home run, so I felt like I needed to rise a little bit,” Garcia said. “It was weird. On my last home run, which also went the farthest, everyone just sat in the dugout and didn’t want to react. They were giving me a hard time.
“It was still fun, though. I went around and patted everyone on the head after the silent treatment. I have never seen anything like that, let alone do it.”
Those four homers led to Garcia receiving the Barry Bonds treatment in his final plate appearance.
“They walked him intentionally with the bases loaded,” Bush said. “I have never seen that before.”
The Blue Springs grad has made a big leap since the 2018 season, as he’s the statistical leader in most offensive categories for the A’s. Before Wednesday’s doubleheader against Independence Post 21, he had a .435 batting average, a ridiculous 1.380 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage), an .855 slugging percentage with 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 28 RBIs.
“I have been up and down recently, but I started the season really strong,” Garcia said. “I just had to focus on my approach.”
He’s filling in a big offensive void after the A’s lost prolific sluggers Jake Lufft and Anthony Gunn from last year’s team.
“Those were some big shoes to fill,” Garcia said. “Last year, I was watching Jake hit and that helped me. “
For Bush, Garcia has been a pleasant surprise.
“I can’t say enough good things about Christian,” Bush said. “He’s a team leader, works hard to make himself better and is an asset to the team. He’s the type of kid that keeps coaches coming back. All the other players look up to him.
“I didn’t expect this out of him. I saw the potential when he finally got a chance to play in high school. He was just on fire. He hasn’t slowed down a bit.”
He was also a pleasant surprise for the Wildcats as well. He didn’t play single varsity game until midway through the season. He ended up being one of the team’s better hitters and was batting cleanup.
“I actually hit two home runs in my first game with Blue Springs,” Garcia said. “When I got my chance, I didn’t waste it.”
And he hasn’t wasted his chance to play every day with the A’s either. He’s actually been hitting so well, the rival Blue Springs Post 499 Fike team even used a defensive shift against him in a game Tuesday.
“I didn’t even notice it until I hit it right at the second baseman, who was where the hole normally would be,” Garcia said.
It’s not a strategy Bush would recommend to opposing coaches, however.
“He can hit the ball to the opposite field,” Bush said. “I don’t know why other team’s would do that. In Springfield, he hit two or three doubles to the opposite field. If I am coaching against Christian, I am not (using a defensive shift).”
Garcia said he hopes to help lead his team to Zone 2 championship this season and wants to continue his recent success. He also hopes to carry that success to University of Wisconsin-Superior, an NCAA Division III program.
“I mostly decided on that because of the education part of it,” Garcia said. “I was planning on doing a physical program there. They told me I am supposed to play first base and pitch.”