Augie Garrido, the whimsical coach with the small-ball philosophy who led Texas baseball to two national championships and won more games than any other coach in college history, died Thursday morning in California. He was 79.
Garrido had been hospitalized there since suffering a stroke last weekend.
Garrido ruled the Texas dugout from 1997 until 2016, having previously coached at Cal State Fullerton, Illinois, Cal Poly and San Francisco State. He amassed an 824-427-2 record with the Longhorns, leading Texas to national titles in 2002 and 2005. He won five championships in all, having won with Cal State Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995.
With a career record of 1,975-951-9, Garrido is the all-time winningest coach in Division I baseball history.
“Augie was a giant in our game,” Texas head coach David Pierce said in a statement. “His impact on baseball, on the Forty Acres, and on me and so many others will live on forever. My thoughts are with Jeannie, his friends, his family, and all those who were lucky enough to have met him, played for him, or learned from him. His presence will be sorely missed but his legacy will never be forgotten.”
Response to Garrido’s passing from former players and coaching peers poured in from around the country.
“Pressure is a choice, the world treats winners different than losers, time is the ultimate game, passion will persuade reality,” former Texas pitcher Huston Street tweeted. “Coach you’ve been a genius for so many of us. A friend, our charming second Dad we all thought was just so cool. I love you forever.”
Said long-time Rice coach Wayne Graham: “It is a sad time because I don’t think anyone did more for college baseball and baseball in general than Augie Garrido. He knew the particulars of the game better than anyone.”
Said Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson, who spent 10 years as a Garrido assistant: “I couldn’t have had a better mentor in the game. We still talked at least once a week. When I got the head coaching job here at OU, I told him I wanted to carry on his legacy with all the things he taught me.”
Said former football coach Mack Brown: “He really made you think, made you laugh and always was so much fun to be around. He was truly a special man, one of a kind.”
Garrido set the career wins record in 2003 when Texas toppled top-ranked Florida State for his 1,428th win. Eleven years later, he broke the record for all collegiate coaches in a 5-1 win over Texas State. Florida State’s Mike Martin, who has coached the Seminoles since 1980, could break Garrido’s career record this season.
“College baseball and the world lost one of the finest men in our coaching profession,” Martin said in a statement. “Augie dedicated his life to making young men better people. He will be deeply missed by myself and many others.”
Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart, in Nashville for the Longhorns’ first-round game Friday against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, called Garrido a mentor and said he was heartbroken.
“I don’t know what to say. I loved Augie,” Smart said. “He taught me so much in the time we were together. He taught me so much about the fact that what we were doing in our case is so much bigger than basketball, and in his case was so much bigger than baseball.”
In 2016, just before he started his final season at Texas, Garrido reflected on his career in a wide-ranging interview with the American-Statesman.
“I feel blessed that I really haven’t had to go to work since I was a little kid,” Garrido said. “I had every bad job in America growing up. Finally, I picked one out of passion and it was the right choice. My dad told me I couldn’t do it. What I know is if you’re the best at anything, you’ll be able to keep your job. That’s what drove me — trying to be the best I could be, and I still am driven by that.
“When I did sign this two-year extension (after the 2014 season), I went up to the cemetery where my mom and dad are buried. I knocked on his tombstone and said “Dad, when I finish this contract I’ll be 79 years old. I think I kept my job.”
While at Texas, Garrido coached 27 All-Americans and 102 players who went on to play professionally. Each of the 11 Longhorns that were selected in last year’s MLB draft were recruited by Garrido. In 2016, he told the Statesman that Street was the best Longhorn he had ever coached.
“What might seem exceptional for one person was very normal for him, to be able to perform and be successful in different environments,” Garrido said of Street, who has 324 saves in 13 MLB seasons. “His fearless approach to throwing to the mitt and trusting his teammates to do the rest — he came here with that.”
In that 2016 interview, Garrido was asked what was his biggest regret in his 20 years at Texas.
“I don’t think I know what the biggest regrets are. The biggest regret is me not knowing what I should regret,” he answered. “The player I didn’t make contact with that I could have. Or not having as positive of an effect on the players that weren’t playing or had lesser roles. And I try to watch for that. I think my biggest regrets are what I don’t know. That person I let down. That person who needed more from me and I didn’t know it.”
Texas won 18 of its last 20 games in 2002, with the final one being a 12-6 win over South Carolina to win the national championship at the College World Series. Led by pitchers Justin Simmons and Street as well as Tim Moss’ and Dustin Majewski’s All-American bats, the Longhorns went 57-15 and secured the school’s first baseball title since 1983.
Three years later, Garrido led UT back to the winner’s circle. Following a runner-up finish in 2004, Texas closed out its 2005 campaign with seven straight wins. The Longhorns (56-16) beat Florida 6-2 for the crown.
Texas relieved Garrido of his duties following the 2016 season. The Longhorns had reached the College World Series in 2014, but the program posted losing records in conference play the next two years. Texas went 25-32 in 2016; Garrido’s final game was an 8-2 loss to TCU at the Big 12 tournament.
Following his departure, Garrido had served as a special assistant to the athletic director. But he was occasionally still seen at Texas games. Last month, he and legendary LSU coach Skip Bertman threw out the ceremonial first pitches ahead of the two schools’ first meeting since the Tigers beat the Longhorns for the 2009 NCAA title.
“This is a very, very sad day,” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “We lost one of the greatest coaches of all time, a truly special Longhorn Legend and college athletics icon. There will never be another Augie Garrido. He was a once-in-a-lifetime personality whose impact on Texas Athletics, collegiate baseball and the student-athletes he coached extended far beyond the playing field.”
He was born August Edmun Garrido, Jr. on Feb. 6, 1939 in Vallejo, Calif. Garrido’s first appearance in the College World Series was as a Fresno State outfielder in 1959. After three years with the Bulldogs, he spent six years in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system.
In 1966, Garrido landed his first coaching job at Sierra High School in Tollhouse, Calif. Three years later, his coaching career began when he took over the program at San Francisco State University.
Garrido is survived by his wife, Jeannie, and daughter, Lisa.