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Manny Garza

Rice catcher Manny Garza remembers lean years

Manny Garza appreciates his parents' sacrifices

HOUSTON – Manny Garza and his family rarely traveled to play baseball. They usually stuck around the local fields in Rio Grande City, a small rural town in South Texas where tight-knit families gather. 

While the Rice University catcher and his twin brother Eddie developed their skills in the Valley, they earned a spot with the South Texas Banditos, an elite travel ball team based in Corpus Christi, which is 166 miles from his hometown. 

Although their tenure with the team was on and off due to financial constraints, the twins were eager to experience a new city competing with future major league talent. Karla and Eddie Garza Sr. dropped Manny and his twin brother off at the front of the field so they could warm up with their team.

As the game progressed, Manny, the older of the two twins, took occasional glances toward the few parents who made the trip. He didn’t see his parents.

Manny Garza saw the sacrifices early

Karla and Eddie Garza Sr. were waiting in the parking lot because the daily entrance fee was a cost they couldn’t afford. 

“My parents didn’t have the money to take us to baseball tournaments,” Garza said. “We were on the way to a baseball tournament. My parents couldn’t go to the game to see me because they had to pay the gate.

“I finished my game, and they were outside in the parking lot. I’m like, ‘What happened? And, he’s like, ‘You are going to let go of baseball for a while because we don’t have the financial help right now.’”


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Manny Garza later discovered that his parents took out loans to pay for future travel ball tournaments so that both boys could participate in their favorite sport. The 5-foot-11 catcher reflects on this moment constantly as he slowly morphs as the Rice Owls’ leader.

“I feel at times my work ethic and all this stuff I do on the baseball field reflects on that moment a lot,” Garza says. “It was a moment where we knew we didn’t have a lot, but we had family.”

Garza is adamant that God and his family have been instrumental for him and his twin brother Eddie, whom he talks to daily. After Manny Garza broke the family television with a yo-yo, both siblings were registered in the local Little League a day later. After that, the twins would play and practice together. 

Tight bond

Entering college marked the first time they had been apart. Manny signed at Rice. Eddie Jr., a 5-foot-10, 190-pound infielder, initially enrolled at Grayson College before transferring to Tennessee Tech. 

“My brother in my career has been really big,” Manny Garza said. “I feel like if I didn’t have a twin brother or have him in my life I wouldn’t be here today.

“I don’t think this would be possible without him. And like my parents always say, two is better than one.”

The twins support each other. They call to congratulate one another and to comfort each other. Being the oldest twin, Garza often found himself in positions to lead by example, especially as he tried to be a great older brother. 

Not much has changed in his third year with the Owls. The switch-hitting slugger has grown into a natural leader among the young Rice squad. 

Manny Garza
Rice junior Manny Garza has become a respected leader for the Owls. Photo by David Pillen/Rice University.

‘Very diligent’

What makes Garza a great leader for the Owls is that he doesn’t take baseball for granted. He realizes the sacrifices his parents made for him to be at this level. Manny Garza is also proud that his parents don’t have to pay anything for him to earn a college degree from Texas’ most prestigious academic school. 

“I see that he shows up everyday ready to play,” Rice coach Jose Cruz Jr. says of Manny. “I see that he shows up early. He has the willingness to work, and he is very diligent with everything he does. If you look for him as an example, he is quite the example to follow.”

As Garza tries to work his way into the MLB Draft, he has a spectacular resume. In 2022 Garza earned a spot on the All-Silver Glove Series Team. Building off that, he gunned down 22 runners attempting to steal a year later, which led Conference USA.  

No matter what happens as his collegiate career is at the midway point, Garza will surely continue working to make his family proud. 

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