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Catching up with former Texas pitcher Adrian Alaniz (Interview)


Aaron Carrara
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Photo: USA Today

 

If you follow Texas baseball, you probably know the name Adrian Alaniz. During Alaniz’s freshman season with the Longhorns, he hurled the 19th no-hitter in school history on April 16th, 2005. The win not only led the top-ranked Longhorns over the Sooners, it was part of the magical season that saw the Longhorns win it all in Omaha. It gave Texas, a traditional baseball powerhouse, its 6th baseball national championship.

I had a chance to catch up with Alaniz, who still enjoys a life of baseball, football and family.

Aaron Carrara: Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your schedule to talk with me. What’s life like for you these days?

Adrian Alaniz: I am currently coaching HS Football and Baseball in my hometown of Sinton, TX. In football I am the quarterbacks coach and in baseball I am the pitching/infield coach. My teaching position is Elementary PE.

My wife and I are living in Sinton with our one year old daughter Brylee Nicole.

Aaron Carrara: You were drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 and the Nationals in 2007. Tell us what the experience was like to play professional baseball.

Adrian Alaniz: Playing professional baseball was an experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot of what it's like to be a professional and more importantly how to grow as a person. Minor league ball is difficult when you’re on the road from ballpark to ballpark and sleeping in a different bed every night. Managing that was tough. But playing ball as a job was the most rewarding. I met many connections and learned lots from many great ball players over the years.

Aaron Carrara: Texas baseball fans will always remember the no-hitter you threw against Oklahoma in 2005. What was going through your mind when you realized a no-hitter could become a reality?

Adrian Alaniz: That day has a very special place in my heart. Still today people come up to me and mention that they were there or watched it on television. Many of my students even ask about it and how it felt.

I first realized what situation I was in after I sat down in the dugout at the end of the 6th inning. No one came near me or even spoke a word to me. I just sat there and followed my routine in between innings of drinking water and keeping a towel over my arm to stay warm. The standing ovation from the crowd in 9th inning as I ran onto the field for my warm up throws is where it finally hit me. Sticking with the process and trusting Teagarden is all I tried to think about. But striking out the final batter and entire stadium erupting was awesome. Having experienced all that in my red-shirt freshman year was huge for me. The towels laid out on the floor by my teammates from the dugout door to my locker was pretty cool too.

Aaron Carrara: Share your favorite locker room story from that 2005 postseason run.

Adrian Alaniz: My favorite locker room story for the 2005 postseason run was just before game 2 of the Championship series vs Florida. Coach Garrido brought in good friend and movie director Richard Linklater into our locker room to show us the ending of "The Bad News Bears" movie that he had just finished producing. The clip showed the Bears receiving their tiny 2nd place trophy while the Yankees showed off their huge first place trophies. The Bears were disgusted by the fact that they came so close to winning and all they ended up with was a lousy trophy. Basically, coach Garrido summed it up for us by saying we don't want to be 2nd and losing stinks. But we can celebrate like the Bears did at the end of the movie when we win the championship. Guess it worked out alright haha.

Aaron Carrara: Do you still keep in touch with Coach Garrido or any of your old teammates?

Adrian Alaniz: I still try my best to keep in contact with Coach Garrido and my teammates. Not living in Austin limits that but during the Alumni weekends is when I usually catch up with all of my former coaches and teammates. However, I still text/call with my former roommates Clayton Stewart and Andrew Casares regularly.

Aaron Carrara: In 2012/2013, Garrido’s team barely finished .500. In 2014 they were at the CWS. Talent and coaching were essentially the same. From a player's perspective, how do you explain the difference between 2012 & 2013 compared to 2014?

Adrian Alaniz: From a player’s perspective, I believe that in those down years, it’s easy to point the finger at the coaching. But in reality, the players have to look at themselves in the mirror. Leadership within the locker room has to be a priority and in the years that we have been successful we have had that. Everyone wants to blame the coaching thinking that we need a change of faces but then we popped back into the picture in 2014. Cohesiveness in the locker room is a big part in the successes and failures of a team and I believe that the years that we have been the most successful has been because of that.

Aaron Carrara: You are a former high school quarterback and had offers from Nebraska and Baylor to play Division I football. What are your thoughts on Texas football and new head coach Charlie Strong?

Adrian Alaniz: I think Coach Strong and his staff have done a great job with the program since joining before this season. Jumping into a program without knowing any of the players and not having your own recruits is tough for a coach, but they have grinded it out this year. The way he has handled the off the field distractions have been huge for this University and football program. He wants guys that are going to do the right thing on and off of the playing field. You can win and count on guys like that in any program. I am really looking forward to the upcoming recruiting classes that he is bringing in and can't wait for our football team to get back to where it belongs!

Aaron Carrara: Give us a prediction on how the UT baseball team does this season? How strong of a possibility is a trip to Omaha?

Adrian Alaniz: I believe that our baseball team will pick up right where it left off from last year. Getting to Omaha doesn't go unnoticed and with the guys coming back from last year’s team it is going to go a long way for them. I think those incoming players will jump right in and follow the path that these veterans have paved for them. These boys are hungry for what they didn't get to achieve last year so watch out for the Horns this year!

Aaron Carrara: You once said if you had a million dollars you would buy a Hummer. What are you driving these days?

Adrian Alaniz: A million dollars and I would buy a Hummer?! Haha ... what was I thinking? Guess back in college the Hummer was a big deal but it’s not what I would buy today. Right now I am driving the same 2008 Ford F150 Lariat 4x4 that I bought when I signed with the Nationals right out of college. She's still kicking but I've taken that truck all over the east coast while playing ball. We did just buy a new 2015 Chevy Tahoe this summer but of course my wife drives it (haha). Maybe in the near future I can upgrade to another vehicle.

Aaron Carrara: What do you like most about being a dad?

Adrian Alaniz: There are many things that I love in being a Dad. The hugs, kisses and laughs are just a few. Since I coach and am gone most of the day with practices and games, coming home and seeing my daughter’s face light up because she misses me is the best. She definitely has me wrapped around her finger!

Aaron Carrara: Thanks a million for your time.

Adrian Alaniz: HOOK 'EM! 

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Good stuff Aaron.  I'd like to see more of these type of stories with former UT athletes in QA format.

With the Alumni Game in baseball coming up, there may be some opportunities to set up something like this with some of the former players that come in for that game.  You could save them and run a weekly series or something. 

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Great interview and post, AC. Brought back great memories of his no-hitter (I watched it on tv) and

the run the Horns made to win the NC. And his comments about the prospects for the upcoming

Texas baseball season got me excited!  Looking forward to 2015 Texas Baseball returning to Omaha

and getting NC #7!

 

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Good stuff Aaron.  I'd like to see more of these type of stories with former UT athletes in QA format.

With the Alumni Game in baseball coming up, there may be some opportunities to set up something like this with some of the former players that come in for that game.  You could save them and run a weekly series or something. 

I don't know if the online chat feature is still working on the site but it would be cool to do a chat with some of the alums.

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