Augie Garrido, the winningest baseball coach in NCAA history, died Thursday after suffering a stroke. He was 79.
By the time Garrido retired following the 2016 season, he had grown to be the largest figure in the sport and was perhaps the greatest coach of all time. He won five College World Series, compiled a 1,975-951-9 record in 48 years as a head coach and was one of five men to have twice been named Coach of the Year. He in 2016 received Baseball America’s Tony Gwynn Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Augie was a giant in our game,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “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.”
Garrido’s baseball life was truly legendary. He played at Fresno State and helped the Bulldogs advance to the 1959 College World Series, making him one of 11 men to reach Omaha as a player and a head coach. He went on to play five seasons in the minor leagues in the Indians’ system, advancing to Triple-A.
Following his playing days, Garrido in 1969 began his coaching career at San Francisco State. After one season he moved on to Cal Poly for three years. Then, in 1973 he arrived at Cal State Fullerton.
It was at Fullerton that Garrido’s legend was born. He led the Titans’ transition to into Division I and led them to the CWS in 1975, their first season of playing at the highest level. Under Garrido’s leadership, Fullerton quickly became a powerhouse. The Titans won the national championship in 1979 and another in 1984. After the second national championship, he won Coach of the Year for the first time.
In just 10 years, Garrido had turned Fullerton into an elite program and transformed the college baseball landscape as a result. But he grew frustrated at the lack of off-field progress at Fullerton and left in 1988 to take over at Illinois. His Midwestern venture lasted just three seasons before he returned to Fullerton. He lasted six seasons in his second stint and led the Titans to the 1995 national championship.
Garrido was lured away again after the 1996 season, this time by Texas, one of the sport’s greatest powers. He succeeded Cliff Gustafson, a legend in his own right, in Austin and returned the Longhorns to prominence. Texas won national titles in 2002 and 2005 and finished as runner-up in 2004 and 2009. He won his second Coach of the Year award after the 2002 national championship.
But, eventually, Garrido’s exceptional run ended. After making the 2011 CWS, Texas missed the NCAA Tournament the next two seasons. The Longhorns bounced back to make a surprise trip to Omaha in 2014 but needed to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament in 2015 to make it back to regionals. He entered the following season on the hot seat and after going 25-32, he retired from coaching and took a position as a special assistant to the athletic director.
During his time at Texas, Garrido set the Division I record for victories in 2003, and the all divisions mark in 2014. He also became the first coach to win a national championship at two different schools.
Garrido coached three players who won the Golden Spikes Award: Tim Wallach (1979), Phil Nevin (1992) and Mark Kotsay (1995). All three went on to find significant big league success. Other major leaguers he coached include Huston Street, Brandon Belt and Corey Knebel.
Beyond his own success, Garrido cultivated a large coaching tree. Oregon coach George Horton, who has won more than 1,000 games, and Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook are among the current head coaches with ties to Garrido. The assistant coaching ranks are also filled with Garrido’s former players, such as Arizona recruiting coordinator Sergio Brown and Stanford’s Tommy Nicholson.
Garrido had a large personality that played well off the field as well. He befriended Kevin Costner while they were both at Fullerton and appeared in Costner’s movie “For Love of the Game” as the Yankees manager. Garrido was also the subject of Richard Linklater’s ESPN documentary “Inning by Inning: Portrait of a Coach” and hosted “Home Plate with Augie Garrido,” a cooking show on Longhorn Network.
Garrido’s career spanned six decades and made him one of the titans of the sport. He spoke in January in Indianapolis at the American Baseball Coaches Association’s annual convention and filled the convention hall for his hour-long talk. He remained one of the most respected people in college baseball.