“My dad always told me, ‘Don’t forget where you come from. Don’t forget what got you here. Don’t forget your background,’” Espinosa said.
As a youngster, Dave LaRoche remembers visiting his paternal grandmother and hearing her speak Spanish. He was nearly four years old when his parents divorced and has few memories of his father. He kept Garcia as his last name for a few years until he was in the fourth grade and his mother, Mary LaRoche, had remarried.
“I got tired answering my mom was LaRoche and I was Garcia, so I told my teacher one day I was going to be LaRoche,” he said.
When he applied for his first passport in the early 1970s to play winter baseball outside the country, he was Dave Garcia, the name on his birth certificate. “I tell [my wife] Patty every once in a while, we may not legally be married,” he said, laughing.
Even when he pitched for the California Angels, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, all cities with large Latino populations, he was known as Dave LaRoche and wasn’t seen as Mexican by Latin players. He doesn’t identify himself as a Mexican American, and never passed along any customs or traditions to his children.
Adam LaRoche has told his son, Drake, and daughter, Montana, about their Mexican heritage, but he considers himself a Kansan. That’s where he graduated from high school and attended one year of community college. LaRoche owns a ranch in Kansas, loves hunting and hangs out with country music stars.
“I don’t think I fit in real good,” he said. “It doesn’t add up — and my last name LaRoche.”
Dave LaRoche and his wife, who is of Irish and Italian heritage, spent winters in Mazatlan, Mexico. Over the years, he said he has been inspired to learn more about his Mexican roots.
“We’re spending more and more time down here and people are always asking me,” he said. “I may take a visit if I can find out where family is, if there is any family down here.”