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Yo-yo accident leads Manny Garza to baseball stardom

Photo courtesy Maria Lysaker - Rice Athletics

By Pavithr Goli     3/28/23 9:49pm

When sophomore catcher Manny Garza broke his family’s TV as a child, his father decided to punish him. Little did he know at the time, his father’s discipline would  accidentally introduce him to his greatest love: baseball. 

“There was just one day where we were in a room watching a movie, and I was playing with the yo-yo,” Garza said. ”It accidentally slipped from my hand, and that broke the TV. My dad was so mad that [a] couple of days later, he signed me up for baseball – Little League. Ever since the day that I touched that baseball diamond, I fell in love with the game and I felt like I knew that’s what I wanted.”

Throughout his journey, though, Garza has seen baseball as a way to release stress. 

“Something that I learned is that even through your toughest moments, baseball is always going to be there,” Garza said. “When [I] want to get stuff off [my] mind, I go to the cages and just really execute what I got to do there.”

Growing up, Garza developed a strong passion for the sport, but he attributes a lot of his success to his twin brother, who currently plays baseball at Tennessee Tech University. 

“My twin brother has been very important and, honestly, without him I wouldn’t be here today,” Garza said. “I had someone to work with all the time. Every time I wanted to go take some ground balls or work on some catching, I had my twin brother right next to me. I feel like he’s been a big part of this process.”

The bond between the Garza twins withstood both time and distance as they still communicate daily about both baseball and life outside of it. 

“Me and my brother talk to each other every day and it’s something that’s very important,” Garza said. “There’s days that he has a good day, and there’s days that I have a bad day. So, we just work with each other, we talk to each other and just feed positive feedback to each other.”

Garza isn’t just close with his brother. He said his entire family has played a key role in his career.  

“My family [has] pushed me to be where I’m at today,” Garza said. “They’ve been with me throughout the way. Having my family on my side has been something that has pushed me when I feel like sometimes I don’t want to do this. I feel like my family has been a big, big influence.”

Outside of baseball, Garza combines his love for his family and his strong faith, trying to maintain a strong connection with God when he is not on the baseball diamond. 

“I’m a big man of faith,” Garza said. “In my time off baseball, I usually am at church with my dad, helping them do the sound for the church, learning about the word of God and just really installing myself with what I have to do in God’s purpose in this world.”

In addition, Garza maintains his connection to his faith before every game that he plays. 

“We usually have a protein shake that they have for us,” Garza said. “I go get some work with my trainer, and then I usually read a scripture or two from the Bible, spend some time with God and then I go out to batting practice.”

Although just a sophomore, Garza ranks third on the team in RBIs and fourth in batting average, in addition to his defensive work behind the plate. Before he leaves South Main, he hopes to not only get drafted but also return Rice to the national spotlight. 

“My main goal is to get drafted ... make it to regionals [and] win the conference,” Garza said. “After baseball, I would love to stay in the sports industry and just have a big impact there.”

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