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Record-breaking Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido embraces success with class and modesty.

By Steve Habel

20_garridoThe modern but modest office of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido, located two strides from the Longhorns’ clubhouse at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, is void of all signs that the workplace houses the winningest coach at any level in college baseball history. There’s a burnt-orange pair of boots given to him by his current team, but everything else could be found in the office of a department manager or an accountant.

Perhaps that’s fitting since no one manages 18-to-22-year-old baseball players better than Garrido, and he’s prone to demanding accountability from his team, down to making outs that are productive and asking his pitchers to throw to the mitt and not be afraid to let the opposition’s batters put the ball in play.

Garrido cruised past another career milestone March 25 when he won his 1,894th game, making him the winningest coach that ever coached a college or junior college baseball team. And as with almost everything associated with the 75-yearold Garrido, his reaction to breaking the record was understated and classy.

I get the credit, my name is on [the record], but it belongs to everybody,” Garrido says. “Out of respect for everyone—all the players for all the years, all the people I have worked with and all those who’ve stood in the shadows and supported me and my teams—I must say this means a lot to me because of them. I have worked with a lot of brilliant people and they have contributed to this every step of the way.”

When Garrido took the reins of the Texas baseball program in 1996 after the retirement of longtime UT coach Cliff Gustafson, he was already a legend, with 1,151 wins and three NCAA titles at Cal State Fullerton under his belt. Since joining the Longhorns, he has won 757 games (as of May 11), compiled seven Big 12 championships and mentored the Horns to two College World Series titles.

20_garrido2He is only the second coach in Division I baseball history to tally 1,700 or more career victories. Garrido is also the only coach to win 600 or more games at two different schools (Texas and Cal State Fullerton). He led both Texas and Cal State Fullerton to national titles, becoming the first coach to win an NCAA baseball championship with two different schools.

Garrido is also the first coach to win national titles in four different decades and is only the second coach to win five or more total NCAA titles (1979, 1984, 1995, 2002 and 2005). Garrido has produced three Golden Spikes Award winners, four National Players of the Year, six College World Series MVPs, 52 All-Americans, 14 All-League MVPs and 119 professional players during his coaching career.

Baseball is a game in which what goes on between the ears is as important as what goes on between the baselines. Understanding that failure is more certain than success is something that must be dealt with every at-bat or each time the ball is in play. Keith Moreland, the former Texas baseball standout who played 12 seasons in the major leagues, says no one is better at teaching the mental game.

“Augie prepares his team for every situation that can occur on the field, and he mentors the players in the clubhouse to teach them the importance of playing for the team and not for themselves,” says Moreland, who played for Gustafson at Texas. “He and Coach Gus had different approaches, but both those guys knew how to get the most out of his players.”

Playing to your team’s strengths and through fundamentals and attitude are paramount, and coaching to that mantra is the backbone of Garrido’s success. The greatest thing about watching him break the record and working with his team, which he mentors as a man who could be the players’ grandfather rather than their father, is how much he still has in the tank and how those players respect him and hang on his every word.

Some of Garrido’s detractors, especially in the past few seasons when the Horns have underachieved, claim that he might have lost his touch with his players because of that age difference and the way that baseball has changed through the years. Don’t believe that for a second, says Texas sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson.

“Coach Garrido wants to win more than anyone,” Johnson expounds. “He’s a competitor. That’s what describes him. He’s very dedicated, obviously. He’s been doing this for who knows how many years, and he’ll do anything for any of us, and we know it.”

Moreland says it would behoove the current Longhorns to continue to listen to what Garrido has to say.

“Augie is in the moment every moment, and he knows more about baseball and teaching players at the college level than anyone,” Moreland says. “He’s got plenty left to teach those kids.”

It is not the victories that define Garrido’s success, it’s the relationships he has built with his players through the years and how those players continue on as a reflection of their time at the University of Texas.

“I like what I do, and I look forward to doing it,” Garrido says. “I like the relationships involved with it and I like the teacher’s role that I have in it, so that’s where all the rewards are for me. [Getting to the wins milestone] doesn’t redefine who I am, it really does not.”

In the months since he broke the record, the Longhorns grabbed first place in the Big 12 Conference standings with three near-perfect weekend series and then fell back in to the pack when a combination of great play by the opposition, a rash of injuries for Texas and some bad luck erased most of the momentum his team had built up.

“This is really the first recruiting class that the current staff [which includes Skip Johnson, Tommy Nicholson and Ryan Russ]has bought here, and it’s taken everyone a little time to gel,” Garrido says. “We have three freshmen starting almost every game and another getting a lot of innings pitching in relief for this team. We already have a team that can win championships, but we will be even better in the coming seasons.”

Photos courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin.


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