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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #41: Rich Garces

Baseball seems to generate more and better nicknames than any other human endeavor. Maybe it's the column inches beat writers have to produce stretching six minutes of real action over four hours of game time. Maybe it's 24 guys sitting around for months in planes or buses or dugouts with little to do except come up with these frat-boy aliases for each other. Maybe it's the broad array of characters who have played this most accessible of our major sports.

For whatever reason, baseball gave us El Guapo.

In his ten year career, Rich Garces posted a 23-10 record, with a 3.74 ERA in 287 relief appearances. For the 1999 and 2000 Red Sox, he was a vital member of the bullpen, going 13-2. More importantly, he was El Guapo. The moniker was bestowed upon Garces by fellow Sox 'pen-dweller (and brother of Greg) Mike Maddux in 1996, when the rotund reliever was in his first year in Boston. Apparently the pitchers (like Maddux and Clemens) had been trying to come up with a catchy nickname for the new guy. A late-night viewing of The Three Amigos with its silly antagonist spawned the inspiration, and Garces was El Guapo from then on.

El Guapo. "The Beautiful One". There was clearly some ethnic profiling involved, and some gentle teasing directed at Garces' expansive girth. El Guapo's weight was sufficiently concerning to the Sox that they asked him to lose weight. He did, and it mucked up his mechanics to the point that his pitching was never the same.

It just goes to show you - when something is beautiful, don't screw it up.

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