Former Texas coach, player Tommy Harmon first of seven former Longhorns to be honored
Tommy Harmon, the popular former Texas baseball player and coach who played a part in 13 conference championships with the Longhorns, threw the opening pitch from the rubber last Saturday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Harmon, an old catcher, said he was absolutely nervous.
“I was more nervous about that pitch (than) I was before the national championship game started,” Harmon said. “I didn’t want to bounce it, and I didn’t want to throw from halfway.”
But no worries. Harmon threw it right into Kimble Schuessler's mitt at home plate. After a firm handshake with the catcher and a Hook 'em to the stands, he was greeted by his granddaughter, who leaped into his arms.
Harmon, 73, was the first designated former Longhorn to be honored in Texas baseball's season-long "TraDISCHions" ceremonies at games.
Ten years ago, Harmon coached his final season as the Longhorns' associate head coach before he was fired. At the time, head coach Augie Garrido called the move "the most difficult decision I have ever had to make."
As a catcher, Harmon was a three-time All-American who helped lead Texas to three straight Southwest Conference titles from 1968-70. He was a UT coach from 1990 to 2012, the last eight of those years as associate head coach. In all, he was a part of 13 conference titles, 12 teams that made it to the College World Series and two national championships.
After he left, Harmon devoted his time to spending it with his family and helping Texas Athletics through the alumni association.
On Saturday, he recalled the highlight of his Texas career: making the trip to Omaha in 2000, only two years after the Longhorns had gone 23-32-1.
“That was probably the spot ... that I felt like we were on our way back,” Harmon said.
A crowd of more than 7,000 gave Harmon a standing ovation in the middle of the third inning, and he made appearances on the TV and radio broadcasts throughout the game.
“Tommy was a great coach here as well as a player and I think it's due time he gets the recognition.” Texas coach David Pierce said. “There's a lot of former players that were great players here that have a great relationship with Tommy, so that tells me a lot.”
There will be six more TraDISCHions honorees at Disch-Falk this season, including former players Calvin Murray (1990-92), Jim Gideon (1973-75), Taylor Jungmann (2009-11), Bill Bates (1983-85) and Seth Johnston (2002-05). Murray will get his turn on Saturday for the Alabama game. Texas' 2002 national championship team will be recognized on April 23 (Baylor).
Harmon said he learned about his recognition in a phone call from Pierce, who woke him from a nap.
“I was very honored and very emotional about … just coming back and being part of it and remembering all the days of playing and coaching and going to school here," Harmon said. "All the good times and the bad times.”
Pierce said the TraDISCHions concept began as a way to recognize former Longhorns beyond the seven whose numbers have already been retired and are on display at Disch-Falk.
“The criteria to get on that wall is so tough, and there's so many great players,” Pierce said. “So we just got into conversation and thought, why aren’t we recognizing more of those greats that play through here?”