Augie Garrido had it all.
Charisma. Deadpan wit. Smarts. Self-deprecating humor. Who else would joke about a DUI years later and playfully remind someone driving a golf cart at practice to remember to turn on the headlights?
Total respect for the game. Heck, baseball brings everyone to his knees. Perspective. Sass. Irreverence. Friends like Kevin Costner and Richard Linklater. A zest for life.
Heck, how many coaches have a cooking show?
Have I missed anything? Oh yeah, an ability to win. Garrido won a helluva lot. I think losing was intimidated by him.
Regretfully, he didn’t win as much the last few years, which is why he accepted the inevitable and stepped down as Texas’ baseball coach on Monday. But that will never tarnish the unfathomable legend that is Augie Garrido. He wasn’t old. He was 77 years smartass, and I loved that in him.
He won nearly 2,000 games and is ticked off that he ran out of time to win another 2,000. That’s how much he loved baseball. Beat working in the shipyards like his old man. He always said to “expect the unexpected,” but not even he saw the decline in his on-field fortunes.
Today is sad, but this should be about a celebration of a giant of the game. It was a privilege to cover him and his teams.
We’ll never see the likes of him again. He was the most unique yet entertaining and wildly successful coach I’d ever been around.
He was totally unlike Cliff Gustafson, his predecessor who loved sunup-to-sundown practices, worshipped full-scale scrimmages to practice game-like conditions and controlled a game like no other.
Augie shared Gus’ will to win, but in a totally different way. Augie sat back, watched, evaluated and could turn a game with a dirty joke in Spanish to relax a player in the on-deck circle or make a move for a key pinch-hit or rally his team with stirring words in the dugout.
He was the Phil Jackson of college baseball with his Zen-like approach. He’d recruit high school shortstops for every infield position and always gave his outstanding pitching coaches complete autonomy, whether it was George Horton or Skip Johnson. Never saw Augie take even one trip to the mound or be a third-base coach as Gus did.
Augie was part grounded, instantly likable Bobby Bowden, part uber-successful, dashing and eclectic Pete Carroll. No one could take over a press conference like Augie. He was mesmerizing. You never tired of his stories, even the one when his Cal State Fullerton team got eliminated at the College World Series in two days and said the Titans arrived and left Omaha so quickly, “we used the same air sickness bags from the plane we came in on.”
He was relentlessly funny. He was consistent. He was one of the best five coaches to ever work at Texas, all sports included. And we’ll miss him desperately.
I’ve known Augie since he brought his Fullerton team here to play Texas in 1975, my first year on the Longhorns beat, and liked him the instant I met him. He’s been a personal favorite ever since.
If he’d ever found anyone cool enough to match wits or drinks with him during his two decades in Austin, he’d have been the leader of a new Rat Pack. He was throwback Sinatra-hip.
I wish you well, Augie. Just remember to turn the headlights on.