Six-time National Coach of the Year. 20 Conference Championships. 12 trips to the College World Series. 25 NCAA Regional Championship appearances.
To singularly list all of the accomplishments achieved in August Edmun Garrido, Jr's career is an endeavor that is best left to the Hall of Fame. If anybody at the Hall is reading this, my recommendation is that you start collecting a list of honors and accolades now, because that may be your only opportunity to complete the task in a timely fashion.
By winning Friday's Big 12 opener against the Baylor Bears, Coach Garrido eclipsed another career milestone. The win was Garrido's 1,600th victory at the Division I level, a total that has him in rarified air.
In 2003, fittingly during NCAA Super Regional action, Coach Garrido's Longhorns beat Florida State, earning their skipper his 1,428th career victory. At that point, Garrido gained the title of all-time winningest Coach in Division I baseball history. Now, nearly four years later, the Longhorns and their coach continue to rack up victories, adding to that win total and passing milestones faster than McDonald's cranks out hamburgers.
Garrido is the only coach in NCAA history to lead teams to national titles in four different decades. He is the only coach to lead teams from two different schools to NCAA championships. Only three coaches in NCAA history have led teams to five championships...and you guessed it, Augie Garrido is on that short list.
On Friday after the Horns' 3-2 win over Baylor, the significance of Garrido's milestone was not lost amongst fans, coaches and certainly not in the Texas dugout. After earning his fifth save of the season, senior Randy Boone commented, "It was a great honor for me to be part of Coach Garrido's 1,600th win. When it's all over the record won't matter as much as what we go through together. He (Garrido) talks about the relationships that you build all the time, but it's a neat deal to be part of something that is very special for him."
With his career record now standing at 1,600-745-8, Garrido's focus on Friday was not so much on his milestone win, as it was on how the moment affected the team's play, saying, "I knew where the number was, we were aware of the number. I don't know if it played a little part – I thought we were a bit nervous. There was just a little bit of tightness both at the plate and on the field."
Known for his focus on the mental aspect of the game of baseball, Coach Garrido continued on to discuss how the team's focus did not allow those early nerves to impact their performance throughout the game, "You are always nervous, always excited. But that can be channeled into positive energy. That is what an athlete has to do. Once you step between the lines, you become the performer. If you let fear get involved with it, it will stand in the way of your passion and your instincts. We didn't let the things that surrounded us impact our performance today."
As for his thoughts on how the victory over the Bears stacks up in a career piled high with significant wins, Garrido was quick to give credit to those around him saying, "The number is important because of the number of great people that I have had a chance to work with, the coaches, the administrators and especially the players. Of course I have special thanks for Coach Harmon, Coach Johnson, Coach Swindell and the staff here at The University of Texas."
And certainly Longhorn fans everywhere have plenty to thank the coaching icon for as well including five trips to the College World Series in the last six years, and National Championships in 2002 and 2005.
With a career average that translates to more than 41 victories per season, Longhorn fans should be beaming at the prospect of what the rest of 2007 has in store for them. After a few minor bumps in the first seven games of the year, the Longhorns have reeled off 15 wins in their last 18 games. With as talented of a roster as can be found in the country and a coach at the helm with Garrido's experiences and accomplishments, this Longhorn team figures to add to their leader's list of career achievements before this season's chapter is finished.
But Friday was a time to reflect and be thankful for 38 years of coaching excellence, including the last nine seasons here in Austin. No matter how much focus was placed on his career milestone, Garrido stayed in the present saying, "DeLoss Dodds and the athletic department have given me a chance to salute the greatest university in America and certainly the greatest baseball tradition in all of college baseball. It is a special honor to be responsible and it's a tremendous obligation. I am really excited about it every day. I'm living my life beyond my wildest dreams and I thank Texas for that."