OKLAHOMA CITY — For 25 minutes, a group of eight Big 12 coaches sat on stools and remembered one of the greatest skippers in college baseball history.
Nearly two months to the day of his death, the loss of an icon, legendary Texas coach Augie Garrido, still resonated at the annual Big 12 baseball tournament.
Some were emotional. Others grappled with the fact that, for the first time since 1997, Garrido won’t be around for the Big 12 postseason.
“It almost seems like to me he’s still here. They all say he’s here in spirit,” Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said Tuesday during a media luncheon at Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City.
“All of us really have everything to thank for all he did for college baseball.”
One by one, each coach shared stories and their fondest memories of Garrido, the longtime coach who had a stroke and passed away in March at age 79.
It only seemed fitting when considering Garrido, who coached for 48 years, was Big 12 baseball for decades.
“Luckily, he shared so many (stories) so that his lifelong lessons and teachings can be passed on and shared with athletes for many, many years to come,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said.
Many of the anecdotes spoke to how Garrido built his career off treating others, using his selfless character to befriend coaches along the way.
Above all else, the respect and admiration for Garrido were blatantly obvious.
“The one thing he always relayed to us is it’s about relationships,” Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez said. “I say — just because of Augie — I always value how I am as a coach by the number of wedding invitations I get from former players. Hopefully, I made an impact in their life.”
Garrido’s presence was always felt.
West Virginia coach Randy Mazey spent 10 years, first as a TCU assistant and later West Virginia’s head coach, trying to impress Garrido. Mazey received the loudest laughter Tuesday when he explained how he tried to neutralize Garrido’s affinity of calling hit-and-runs by pitching out against Texas.
“After 26 pitchouts, I finally got a guy out,” Mazey said smiling. “To this day, I felt good about it.”
Some coaches simply couldn’t beat Garrido. He won 321 league games and seven league titles during his Texas tenure. For that, his peers considered him an innovator of the game. His teaching chops were elite.
It didn’t stop them from trying, though. Kansas coach Ritch Price said he left Cal Poly for Kansas in 2002 primarily to compete against a living legend.
Price first met Garrido in the mid-‘90s when Cal Poly played Garrido's Cal State Fullerton squad. Price remembers asking Garrido why he bunted in the first inning early in the season. Garrido explained how he coached the first game of the season as if it was the College World Series.
“He said it’s the single greatest sacrifice of this game,” Price recalled. “You play for your team, you get yourself up for your team and you play for the name on the front of your shirt.”
Garrido is remembered for winning five national championships (two with Texas), but he always wondered about the ones that got away. Texas coach David Pierce, who replaced Garrido in 2017, was with the coach during a 2015 trip to Singapore when, during a seminar, he was congratulated on winning the titles.
“He goes, ‘Well, thank you, but that means we failed (43) times,’” Pierce recalled. “That’s the expectations he has on all of those teams. A wonderful man, and I’m privileged to follow his footsteps.”
Garrido had a way with his words, like how he finished every text message sent to Pierce with “I cherish our friendship.”
A certain text message sent in 2015 to TCU Coach Jim Schlossnagle is one he’ll never forget.
An eventual College World Series participant that year, TCU was “embarrassed” during the Big 12 tournament by losing its first two games. By the time Schlossnagle was back on the bus, a long text message from Garrido awaited him.
“He said this is the best thing to happen to your team — here’s how you should handle it and he’s what I would do,” Schlossnagle said. “He was so selfless.”
Schlossnagle noted how Garrido became a personal mentor in his life during the past five years. The same could be said for Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson, who served as Garrido’s pitching coach for 10 years.
Johnson spoke candidly about his former boss before having to pass the microphone so he wouldn’t get emotional.
He mentioned how he wouldn’t be a head coach without Garrido’s guidance. He also offered up a way to continually honor Garrido’s legacy.
“Every coach up here would agree if the Big 12 and the NCAA Coach of the Year is not named after him, it’s a travesty,” Johnson said. “I really believe that. That’s what he’s all about. He’s an icon.”