About a week ago, Texas baseball coach David Pierce received a text message from Augie Garrido.
“I want you to know how I appreciate our friendship,” Garrido wrote to the man who stepped into his spot in the Longhorns’ dugout.
Pierce recalled that message Thursday while talking about his relationship with Garrido that started in 1991. Pierce, the second-year Longhorns coach, and a few former Texas players said Garrido, who died Thursday at age 79, was much more than a championship-winning baseball coach.
Pierce, Drew Stubbs and Drew Bishop spoke about Garrido’s passions off the field — music, fine dining, cooking, gathering with friends, speaking to business leaders as well as to youngsters who aspired to play baseball.
A few years ago, Pierce and Garrido were among five coaches who traveled to Singapore to teach the sport to area teenagers.
“We were there for five days — two years in a row — and I remember sitting around with him and just talking baseball. Before long he’d see a group of people hanging around and he’d go up to them and speak about the weather or something else,” Pierce said Thursday, a day before the Longhorns were to open Big 12 Conference play with a three-games series against visiting Kansas. Texas players were not made available to the media Thursday.
Not surprisingly, it was on a baseball diamond that Pierce first caught a glimpse of Garrido’s love for the game.
“I was a restricted-earnings coach at Rice University when Cal State Fullerton came to play us,” Pierce recalled, referring to the school where Garrido won three College World Series championships before adding two more at Texas. “His team was up 7-0 when he called for a squeeze bunt. We threw right at the next batter, which started a brawl with players from both teams being ejected. That’s when I realized Augie was somebody special. He played to win the game and he felt like (squeezing home another run) was something he needed to do.”
Stubbs, who played for Garrido at UT from 2004-06, laughed when asked about Garrido’s fiery demeanor. He recalled a YouTube video of Garrido ranting at his team after a tough loss.
Said Stubbs, who has played in more than 900 major-league games: “I had so many teammates come up to me in my professional career, and the first thing they would ask was, ‘Man how crazy was Augie?’ “
Garrido had similar outbursts “two or three times” a season, Stubbs said, but that did not define him as a coach or as a man.
“I remember stepping on campus as a freshman knowing the Xs and Os about baseball,” Stubbs said, “but when I was here, I learned so much more from him. I learned how to deal with failure, how to deal with adversity and make the most out of yourself. He was very unique in that way.”
Bishop described himself as “Augie’s right-hand man for eight years” since he became UT’s director of baseball operations after finishing his playing career with the Longhorns in 2008.
“Most of the time we spoke to each other, the subject had nothing to do about baseball,” Bishop said. “He made a difference in people’s lives.”
Among the former Longhorns who paid tribute to Garrido on Thursday through social media was Huston Street, voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 College World Series and a two-time major-league All-Star as a closer.
On his Twitter page, Street wrote:
Pressure is a choice. The world treats winners different than losers. Time is the ultimate game. Passion will persuade reality. Coach, you’ve been a genius for so many of us. A friend, our charming second Dad. We all thought (you) was just so cool. I love you forever. RIP AUGIE GARRIDO.
THIS WEEKEND’S SERIES
Kansas at Texas, Friday-Sunday, UFCU Disch-Falk Field, LHN, 104.9
Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 1; Sunday, 1