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Coach Augie Garrido update


joeywa
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Guys,

Sorry to be the one to pass this along, but we have learned that Coach Augie Garrido passed early this morning.  We are awaiting official news to be released from the University and his family, and will have a story up soon.

 

Rest in Peace, Coach. 

 

It's a sad day in Longhorn nation and the baseball world. 

 

Hook Em Coach.

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Rest In Peace, Coach. I am so grateful for the years you gave us. The perspective that you brought to the game made many of us evaluate everything we knew. 

You are, and always will be, one of the true greats!  Thank you for coming to Texas when we called. 

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2 hours ago, North Texas Golfer said:

Just read the best tribute to Augie over on OB written by one of the writers over there, Dustin McComas. 

If any of the mods on here know, or are friends with Dustin, I wish you would ask him for permission to print it on this site. It's that good. 

R.I.P. Augie.

 

 

 

I spoke to Dustin and he said I could repost his article here. 

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Explaining why Augie is the legend he is, and my favorite story from my years covering him

 
Augie Garrido passed away at age 79. 

It doesn’t feel real because his energy, wit, love of life and personality seemed like they’d be forever young. At the same time, he also lived more in 79 years than anyone could. 

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Augie was the first coach I truly covered. To say I’m typing this with a heavy heart is putting it mildly, but there’s so much to say Augie. He said so much. He was so much of a person, and at the core, he was as true to himself as possible, which was his best quality, a quality above any baseball win. And there were more wins, 1,975, attached to his name than anyone else. As I sit here in Nashville watching the Texas Basketball team practice, the only thing on my mind is Augie. 

I began at Orangebloods.com as an intern writing about Texas Baseball during 2006 season. Over time, I transitioned from intern to full-time beat writer with a focus in Augie’s Longhorns. He was the first coach I truly covered on a day-to-day, beat writer basis. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. I was spoiled. 

To say Augie was interesting is an understatement. Fascinating is more like it. The parallels he’d make from baseball to everyday life or from pop culture to baseball kept us writers on our toes, and always smiling. Unless someone on the team missed a sign, walked in a run, or gave away an at-bat late. Then you could sense the steam coming from his ears. There were jokes, life lessons, his own version of Zen, the occasional curse word, baseball wisdom, and more often packed into one single postgame press session or weekly media availability, and almost always delivered with a smile. 

I’ll never forget asking him during a live press conference what he was thinking in the early part of a Super Regional game versus Houston in 2014 when a ball took a bad hop, hit first base, and nearly opened the flood gates for Houston offensively. 

“Ooohhhhh shit,” he said with a gigantic grin. 

That was Augie. True to the game, and always true to himself and his thoughts and emotions. 

After every conversation, you walked away having learned something or at least heard something that would cause you to pause and think. It didn’t matter if it was March or June – everything was important, and playing the game the right way always mattered. He was always polite, always accessible, and didn’t hide from anything. 

Augie’s legend grew at Texas with his success with pinch-hitters, lineup substitutions, and offensive timeouts. Who else would let Chance Wheeless bat with a bum shoulder in one of the biggest moments of the 2005 College World Series? Augie did, because Augie felt Wheeless’s spirit. Who else would sit in the dugout, turn his hat sideways on his head, and shake his head in a goofy way as his team was making a huge comeback in the 2009 College World Series against future first-round pick Mike Leake? Augie did because he knew his team needed to loosen up and just play. 

During the 2015 season, catcher Tres Barrera had a key at-bat late in the game and late in the season. It was a season in which Texas needed to win the Big 12 Tournament to play in the postseason. Garrido met with Barrera, the two talked briefly, and Barrera left with a big smile before a quality at-bat. What was the conversation? Augie told him a joke in Spanish. 

That was Augie. He didn’t make himself out to be a genius with magic formulas for baseball success when the reality was he knew how to connect with people. His biggest advantages over his counterparts was his ability to connect with young men, and push the right mental buttons in the game’s most crucial times or situations. Augie brought the best out of people, and brought them together. No one understood how to build a true college baseball team in the truest sense of the word “team” better. 

In Augie’s eyes, everything in baseball taught lessons. Baseball wasn’t just a game; it was life. And baseball at Texas was to be played through a total team aspect. 

For Augie, bunting wasn’t just about moving a runner into scoring position. Rather, Texas bunted so much to hammer home the point of sacrifice and one teammate helping another by giving himself up to help the team. Whether the nine-hole hitter was asked or the cleanup man, the lesson was still the same: give yourself up for the better of the team, and build the team concept. Also, it didn’t matter if someone arrived an All-American out of high school or a preferred walk-on. Augie would evaluate with a clean sheet, and play the ones he wanted. 

It’s not a coincidence that this model was used on teams that delivered some unexpectedly awesome clutch performances on college baseball’s biggest stage. 

Augie’s competitiveness was unrivaled. I quickly learned that. No one wanted to win at Texas more than Augie, and after first two seasons resulted in no postseason games, people began to wonder. In 2002, Texas won the national championship, but it wasn’t just a national title for Augie. It was his message to the Texas faithful and the college baseball world: I can do it here too, a place Texas fans now fully understand can be difficult to restore no matter the history. 

He knew baseball is the cruelest of games, and embraced that. Batting average was often referred to as a demon that could weigh down players, and he strived to make sure players weren’t playing too hard and navigated the minefields of expectations. No one understood the pressures of being at Texas better than Augie. He embraced them, but also managed them. 

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My favorite story covering Augie came in the 2014 season. Texas was coming off back-to-back subpar seasons following a 2011 College World Series appearance. Augie desperately wanted to get back, and prove he could still do it. 

After a strong start to the season, Texas hit some bumps in the road. A really good TCU team swept Texas in Austin by a combined scored of 8-1. Oklahoma State then won a home series thanks to a 2-1 win, and Texas lost a series at West Virginia. The Longhorns weren’t playing poorly, but the voices were growing louder by the week that Augie lost his touch. 

Before Texas played Kansas State, Garrido called me over after the normal weekly media availability concluded. I was a bit nervous - scratch that - I was petrified. He never called me over before. Did I write something mean or bad? I didn’t think so. Was he about to go "YouTube" on me?

He calmly walked over and pulled me away from the crowd, stood beside me, and said something along the lines of, “Do you think we’re a good team?” 

Caught off guard, I eventually said yeah, and explained the pieces his team had, the close losses against good teams, the player leadership and Texas wasn’t playing nearly as poorly as the record suggested. Every Texas team under Garrido that had good player leadership often turned out to be highly successful because he harvested a culture that would eventually allow him to hand the team over to the players when it mattered most.

He paused for a moment and processed what I said. After a quick moment, he said something along the lines of, “You’re always fair and you see the game. I respect your opinion.” After another pause, he said something similar to this, “I think we’re good too. You should keep writing that.”

A few weeks later, Texas went on to play as an at-large team in the NCAA Tournament at the Houston (Rice) Regional, which ended up with Texas eliminating Texas A&M. 

“Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” Augie said as he sat down for the postgame press conference. He never said it, but there’s zero doubt he felt the pressures of two bad seasons and knew he needed to do well in 2014. And he responded with arguably his best coaching job at Texas.

The Longhorns then swept Houston in a Super Regional, and were a couple of bad breaks away from beating Vanderbilt and advancing to the College World Series Championship Series. Oh, by the way, Texas did this after Dillon Peters was lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery, and Augie stuck with Chad Hollingsworth to throw a complete game versus the Aggies in an elimination game. Because of course he did. Hollingsworth had never done anything like that before, but Augie felt he could do it. And he did. 

Augie’s legend as a baseball coach will live forever. No one that’s coached college baseball has done it better than the five-time national champion, and 16-time College World Series participant. Essentially, he built Cal State Fullerton into a true titan in the game, and then took the most storied program in the sport back to the top.

I’ll miss Augie. There will never be anyone else like him, but also he wasn’t that different than you and I. He was flawed. He was human. He didn’t pretend otherwise. That’s what made him so special – someone that reached true legendary status and was at the top of his craft remained human, and embraced who he was. If he was hurt, he’d say it. If he was excited, he’d show it. If he was mad, he wouldn’t hide it. 

And all along the way he never lost sight of his path – connect with young men and prepare them for adulthood and society through baseball. And no one has ever done it better. We lost the truest definition of the word "legend" today, but I'm a better person because I was fortunate to spend years around Augie. RIP.
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