By John Leonhardt
Eastbay Team Sales Staff Writer
Not even 44 years as a D1 head coach can slow down Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido. The 2014 season saw Garrido lead his Texas squad to Omaha, Nebraska – the annual home of the College World Series – for the eighth time. It was his 15th trip overall as coach.
The equation is simple: Garrido equals wins. His 1,917 career victories make him the all-time wins leader in NCAA baseball history, across all levels. He's also been crowned national champion five times – three with Cal State Fullerton and two with Texas. So how did the Vallejo, California, native develop and grow through the years to become what he is today? It was a lot of baseball, and a lot of baseball people.
"My dad, of course, was a major influence," says Garrido. "He was a fastpitch softball player and coach. I was always in his hip pocket, so he was my early mentor. The most significant thing that happened to me was as a young child, I grew pretty early, and then I just stopped. I hit a spot where I didn't even make the team in high school or American Legion my junior year. There were many similar situations to follow, and they all became important in developing the mentality that became instrumental in forging an attitude to be successful. To do the best I could.
"I also took a lot from coach Rod Dedeaux. Most coaches were very military type. Dedeaux was fun-loving. I thought everybody had to be very military type, and I saw him and he was a fun-loving person and a very successful coach. He brought a lot of balance and taught me that you can make this fun and exciting."
In 1997, Garrido made the jump from the West Coast to become the head coach at Texas as the successor to Cliff Gustafson, who held that role for the previous 29 years. Gustafson led Texas to 22 conference titles, 11 conference tournament championships, and two College World Series championships. Needless to say, Garrido had big shoes to fill, but the program never wavered or missed a beat.
"The biggest challenge I had was recognizing the environment I was in, and then making adjustments to be able to function within that environment. It was a complete 180 from Cal State Fullerton. I had to face this challenge to see how good I really was. You think you're good, but you've only been in one environment. If you're really good, you can do it somewhere else. Texas is the most challenging and rewarding environment to be in. I had to make a lot of adjustments. We were finally able to break through in 2000 and make it to Omaha. We really took off from there. Sports Illustrated named us the top Division 1 baseball team for the decade because we ran off 10 years of highly successful seasons."
To build the team-of-the-decade type program, the career wins leader has a specific type of player he wants to bring to campus.
"We go quickly to their academic progress after they've been identified as a potential Division 1 player at Texas. We look at the transcripts to see what their full academic history is like. Then we start looking at them personally. What kind of work ethic do they have? Who do they associate with? Are they with the right people?"
Once these athletes meet Garrido's criteria, it's time to get to campus and get to work.
"When we start practicing, I want them to focus on competing, and we want to do that at game speed. I want them to fulfill the goals in practice that they would apply to playing a game. We focus on what we want to become, and the only way to do that is through practice."