Garciaparra excited for Uncle 'Zully'

he was born in Whittier, southeast of Los Angeles -- and he's married to Mia Hamm, who is widely considered the best female soccer player ever. The game is in his blood. Literally.

Garciaparra's uncle is Javier "Zully" Ledesma, the assistant coach of the MLS expansion team Club Deportivo Chivas USA and the former star goalkeeper for Club Deportivo Guadalajara (known as las Chivas Rayadas), the sister club and namesake of CD Chivas USA.

As CD Chivas USA joins MLS for the 2005 season and Ledesma relocates to Los Angeles, Garciaparra fondly remembered the days when his uncle protected the nets for the legendary Mexican club, which won its ninth Mexican first division title with Ledesma in goal in 1986-87.

"I used to watch him play all the time. He was a great goalie," Garciaparra said recently. "I used to watch him play when I was younger. They used to come to the Coliseum (in Los Angeles). The Chivas are big time -- they get big support in Los Angeles."

In May 2003, Garciaparra told the Mexican newspaper Grupo Reforma that if he had played soccer professionally, he would have liked to have played with CD Guadalajara, not only because of his uncle's connections, but because of his family's history of supporting the club, which dates back to his great-grandparents. Garciaparra also told the newspaper that he chose baseball over soccer because he thought baseball presented more opportunities to him. Still, soccer -- and Garciaparra's memories of his uncle -- remain close to his heart.

"When I was younger, we'd play at halftime in between the big games -- that's when I was eight, nine years old," he said. "We used to be on the field. I used to see (Ledesma) all the time. It was great."

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. Carrie Muskat contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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