HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A batting practice pitcher has one main job: serve up hittable pitches for the team's batters to bash. But Astros assistant Javier Bracamonte is responsible for delivering more than just batting practice.
"I send gloves, batting gloves - everything I can send to kids over there," Bracamonte explained during an interview with ABC13.
Bracamonte, who joined the Astros as the team's bullpen catcher in 2001, frequently sends baseball equipment to children in his home country of Venezuela. In 2017, Bracamonte's sister - on behalf of a former college classmate - had an odd ask: size 12 baseball cleats.
"Why are you asking for size 12?" Bracamonte wondered. "Nobody in Venezuela is a size 12. She said there is one. I think he's a pitcher. She never told me a name or anything."
His name? Luis Garcia.
As in Astros pitcher Luis Garcia, who threw five shutout innings in the team's Division Series-clinching victory Saturday. Five years ago, Garcia was traveling to a tryout when his baseball bag was stolen.
"I had my glove and cleats in there," Garcia recalled to ABC13. "When I realized that, I was like 'Oh, my God, what am I going to do?' I don't know where, I don't know how, but my mom found something."
And these two found out their fateful connection just two years ago in 2020, which was the year Garcia made his Major League debut with the Astros, a squad coached by Bracamonte.
"He's a great guy," Garcia said of Bracamonte, with whom he's now even more connected. "We love him."
"It's an amazing feeling," Bracamonte added. "I still send stuff back home. Venezuelan baseball is growing so fast, so the best thing I can do is help, and I guess that's the way it is."
The way it is makes for quite a way for these two Astros to link up before they knew their baseball shoes would be walking the path towards another potential World Series appearance.
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