Former UI coach Augie Garrido dies

Former UI coach Augie Garrido dies

The time Augie Garrido spent at Illinois was brief.

But successful. Much like his entire 48-year career coaching college baseball.

The sport’s all-time winningest coach, who coached the Illini for three seasons from 1988 to 1990, died on Thursday.

The 79-year-old Garrido had been hospitalized in California following a stroke on Sunday.

“It’s a huge loss for college baseball,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb told The News-Gazette on Thursday afternoon. “He was one of those iconic figures.”

Garrido compiled 1,975 wins during his coaching career that included two stints at Cal State Fullerton along with stops at  Texas, Illinois, Cal Poly and San Francisco State.

A five-time national champion, Garrido finished his career at Texas after guiding the Longhorns to College World Series titles in 2002 and 2005.

This was after he led Cal State Fullerton to national titles in 1979, 1984 and 1995.

Of those nearly 2,000 wins, 111 came with the Illini.

Garrido arrived in Champaign in 1987 after former Illinois athletic director Neale Stoner hired him away from Fullerton.

In three seasons at Illinois, Garrido guided the Illini to two NCAA tournament appearances in 1989 — the program’s first NCAA tournament trip since 1963 — and 1990.

Both seasons also ended with Illinois winning the Big Ten tournament when the conference was split into two divisions and a four-team playoff was held at the end of the regular season.

Garrido left Illinois after the 1990 season, returning to Fullerton, where he experienced success with the Titans again before landing the job at Texas in 1996, a position he held until May 2016.

Even with all the success Garrido had with Fullerton and Texas, his time at Illinois left a mark on him.

“One of the reasons I feel that I’m a much better coach than I was when I left Fullerton is because of my three years at the University of Illinois,” Garrido told The News-Gazette in 1995 prior to the College World Series. “I feel like someone who has been educated by the university. I feel better as a result of the experience and will always treasure being a part of the school.”

Hartleb arrived at Illinois in 1991, the season after Garrido left, to serve as an assistant coach to Itch Jones.

Hartleb replaced Jones as the Illinois coach in 2005 and although he never coached against Garrido, he has fond memories of some interactions he had with Garrido.

“He came back for an alumni game at Illinois one fall when he was still coaching,” Hartleb said. “I had the chance to speak with him for about 10 minutes. He was a very, very nice person with a great personality. He was one of those people that just had a presence about him.”

Hartleb would try and incorporate some strategies and decision-making from watching Garrido’s teams at Fullerton and Texas.

“I got to be around one of the greatest coaches in the game in Itch Jones for a long time, and just like with Augie, those are people that you watch and try to take things from them that can help you in your career,” Hartleb said. “He was a great teacher of the game and just a master motivator. He really excelled in the psychology of the game.”

Illinois has reached the NCAA tournament five times in the 28 years since Garrido last coached the Illini, but hasn’t reached consecutive NCAA tournaments since Garrido was in the dugout.

“He came in and elevated the program,” Hartleb said. “There was an expectation that the program was moving in an upward direction when I came here, and Augie was a person that had a great impact on that.”

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Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes. wrote on March 15, 2018 at 3:03 pm

I had the absolute joy to work for two of the best coaches in college history, Augie Garrido and Richard "itch" Jones.  No two coaches  have had more success getting the most out of their players than Augie and Itch.  

Augie was one of my life coaches.  His patience and wisdom were just what I needed when I needed it.  I would not be who I am today without him,  And I know this is true for players, coaches, administrators and friends across the country.  He saw himself as a teacher, no different than the men or women who taught at the universities he worked for.  Others may teach English or Math or Computer Science.  He taught baseball.  And in his teaching he emphasized how baseball and life go hand in hand.  Every pitch, out, run, inning and game counts.  Just like every minute, day, week, month and year in your life counts.  Never take anything for granted.  Work hard and you will be rewarded.   There will be sunny days and dreary days.  Have fun and play the game on the sunny days!

Players followed him.  They knew he was a champion.  He had been to Oz, (Omaha),  Not only had he been to Oz, but he knew every brick in the yellow brick road.  Secretly he may have been the Wizard.  

For me he was unique.  He lived for what was possible.  He didn't spend time relishing in his past success.  He was always focused on one more trip to Omaha.  That's how he walked away.

August  Edmun Garrido Jr. I'll miss you my friend.  I had hoped to see you in a couple months but now I'll just appreciate the memories.  Adios Amigo, Vaya Con Dios.