Texas head coach David Pierce remembers the first time he crossed paths with former head coach Augie Garrido.
Pierce was a restricted earnings coach for Rice. Garrido was the head coach for Cal State Fullerton. The two teams squared off for a game during the 1991 season.
Garrido’s team took an early lead and rode it throughout the matchup. By the seventh inning, the Titans led, 7-0. Pierce’s team was frustrated. His pitcher tried pegging the next batter, who took exception. The two teams began brawling on the field and multiple players were ejected.
“Right then is when I knew (Garrido) was somebody special,” Pierce said. “He was planning to win the game and that's what he felt like he had to do.”
When Garrido resigned as Texas’ head coach in 2016, he remained close to the program as a special assistant to then-athletic director Mike Perrin. When Pierce arrived as Garrido’s replacement, the pair already had a mutual respect for each other.
“I’m thankful for our friendship,” Garrido said in his last text message to Pierce before his passing on Thursday morning.
“I'm just thankful that I was around him but really, really thankful that he embraced me,” Pierce said. “That says it all for me. I mean he has become one of my very good friends over the past couple of years. And so, there's so many people in our building that are struggling right now with his loss. I'm up here speaking on behalf of all those that Coach Garrido is truly missed.”
Garrido’s loss has been hard for many people. Hundreds of people have reached out to the team wishing to give their thoughts, prayers and condolences.
“Obviously, it's a sad day for a program, sad day for college baseball,” director of baseball operations Drew Bishop said. “You get to see what his reach was really easily in a situation like this.”
Bishop played for Garrido at Texas from 2005–2008. He noticed during his career that Garrido always knew the right thing to say in any situation — not just baseball. It helped him stay in touch with his players, even in retirement.
“A lot of times it's not about baseball, it's really, it’s life, it’s about friendship,” Bishop said. “You know, he would care a lot more about how we were doing individually than he would ever wonder or have any idea or any knowledge or feel for baseball.”
Pierce and Bishop will turn their attention to consoling Texas’ current players and helping them move past the loss. They’ll try to find the right thing to say, just as Garrido used to.
“I want to tell them what he means to me and I want to tell them what he means to our game and to so many people that he cross paths with,” Pierce said. “And I want them to really appreciate what they have and reflect on what we could possibly become. I just want him to be a part of our program like he always has.”
“I know and anybody that knows him, he wouldn't want us to spend more than a second sad about it,” Bishop said.