As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of high school spring sports, local seniors were faced with an abrupt ending to their high school careers. A group of these students were also athletes at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, presented by Toyota. This Rangers Academy Senior Spotlight series seeks to highlight those athletes who have worked on their craft at the Academy as they move into the next chapter in their lives.
Marco Garcia Wong, North Dallas High School
When Marco Garcia Wong’s senior baseball season ended unexpectedly due to COVID-19, he was faced with two choices: keep practicing on his own or cry over the missed opportunity.
“At the beginning it was hard, because it’s something you were never ready for,” Garcia Wong recalled. “But baseball taught me to overcome adversity. I could have easily cried all day or put the work in by myself.”
The North Dallas High School senior chose to continue putting in the work, much like he’s done over his two years participating at the Rangers MLB Youth Academy.
Academy director Juan Leonel Garciga has observed Garcia Wong’s approach to the game.
“Marco plays the game with tremendous joy and always has a smile on his face when he’s on the field. It’s infectious how much fun he has playing baseball, and it really rubs off on his teammates,” Garciga said.
In 2019, Garcia Wong represented the Rangers at the Hank Aaron Invitational, earning a new glove for his performance in the showcase. He also made the Academy’s RBI All-Star team, competing in the RBI Southwest Regionals, and he played on the Rangers Academy team in the Commissioner’s Cup tournament as part of All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.
It was the Commissioner’s Cup trip in July that brought Garcia Wong’s moment of fame. The team was seated in the outfield at Progressive Field to watch the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.
“That day we got the best tickets in the house. I was excited about it.” Garcia Wong remembered.
He called a friend, who told him to catch one of Toronto rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s home runs. Garcia Wong promised to deliver.
“The moment came, and I remember it in slow motion,” Garcia Wong said. “I knew that ball was going to be mine. I was shaking, I didn’t believe it.”
He had secured one of the 91 homers Guerrero hit that night. As Guerrero finished second to Mets rookie Pete Alonso in the Derby, Garcia Wong fielded phone calls from his own adoring fans.
“All my friends and family called me right away saying they saw me on TV. Fifty seconds later, I saw I was on SportsCenter. I couldn’t believe it,” Garcia Wong said.
That wasn’t the only significant baseball moment Garcia Wong has experienced, though. As a sophomore at North Dallas, Garcia Wong was a part of the District 12-5A champion Bulldogs.
“It’s the best team I’ve ever been [a] part of. The chemistry we had was awesome. We went from being at the bottom to being the best team,” Garcia Wong said. “My teammates and I only know how hard we worked to get there.”
Despite the abrupt ending to his high school career, Garcia Wong has spent the time off continuing to work hard on his game, preparing to take the field for McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, next season.
“Marco works incredibly hard, not only on the field, but with his family in helping to provide,” Garciga said. “Last summer there were days that he looked worn down and tired, and it was because of the work he put in during a late shift the previous evening. But that wasn’t going to stop him from showing up for morning workouts.
“That’s the type of person and player that McMurry is getting in Marco Garcia Wong. A talented player with a great attitude who will not be outworked,” Garciga added.
It was his love for the game that made Garcia Wong want to play at the next level.
“I was recruited by coach [Boardman] Adams in a showcase. Later on, I went on a visit to McMurry University and they definitely made me and my parents feel welcomed and safe. And the city is perfect,” Garcia Wong said.
Garcia Wong plans to study biology, with a goal of working with crops and animals before someday owning his own ranch he can work with his family.
He’ll take the lessons he’s learned from the sport with him on the next step in the journey.
“The most important thing that I have learned from baseball is to overcome adversity at any time,” Garcia Wong said.