Augie Garrido never pretended to be a Texan. In fact, he never pretended to be anything other than what he was, which was many things that at first glance did not seem to be Texan at all.
His voice was certainly not anything like his predecessor, Cliff Gustafson, who might be the very definition of “Texan.” He drank wine and talked about psychology and hung out with Kevin Costner.
And when he first arrived in Austin, there were certainly plenty of folks in Texas who wondered why DeLoss Dodds decided to look to California – practically a whole other country – to find Gustafson’s replacement.
Monday afternoon, though, as they held the Erwin Center ceremony celebrating Garrido, who died last month, it seemed obvious to me that the Californian who became the winningest coach in college baseball was pure Texan.
The truth is, Garrido’s California cool carried with it all of the attributes us Texans like to claim as our own.
For starters, he was a worker who came from a family of workers. Is there more “Texas” of a story than one that involves rising up from unfortunate hardships as a child to become successful simply because he or she has willed it so? Texas is rural and in many places poor; those are Augie’s roots.
Garrido’s family had little, and very early on he learned that the only way he was going to break that cycle of struggle was to work, and work well. Nothing paints his picture more clearly than his tenure at Cal State-Fullerton, where he piloted the Titans from the very bottom to the absolute top: a College World Series champion.
Nothing says “Texas” more than rags to riches. And just like you, and probably your folks before you, Augie embraced and remembered and learned from the rags as well as the riches. He appreciated the riches because he survived the rags. Texas never forget where they came from; that was Augie. And that is Texas.
And Lord, he was confident. Texas is a state full of people who, when told something cannot be done often respond with, “Why the hell not?” That was Augie, who once told his Fullerton team – in the middle of a season – to be prepared for the popcorn smell that emanates in and around Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, then the home of the College World Series. He didn’t hope to get to the World Series – and win it – he expected it. That was Augie; and that was Texas.
His taste in wine and food was expensive; everything should be done right, and maximized, and savored. That was so Augie, and I’m willing to bet we all have folks in our families who think exactly the same way. That’s Texas.
He may have been the world’s best smartass, too. In Texas, we are all surrounded by smartasses, whom we all hold in high esteem. Every single person in my family is a smartass; 100 percent of them. All of them. Augie would’ve fit perfectly as my crazy ass uncle. That’s Texas; that’s Augie.
And God knows he was tough. Though it’s not recommended at your workplace, if you want to look through a clear window into Augie’s internal house of toughness, jump on YouTube and search “Augie Garrido rants.” I can certainly say that I’ve seen rants like that in my own Texas family on occasion; you aren’t a true Texan unless you can cuss a room full of people out comfortably and naturally and creatively. Who hasn’t cussed out somebody, apologized at the end of the rant and stormed out of a room? That was Augie; and that is most assuredly Texas.
The celebration of his life included many Texans who shared their love for Augie; love is yet another trait that many from the Lone State State claim to have invented. We love big here and Texas, just like we do everything else, and Augie clearly loved those around him. We hug and kiss and then sometimes go back in for a second hug while we are at it. That was Augie; that’s us. He was us.
Augie Garrido never pretended to be Texan. But the life he lived was all Texas, and those who couldn’t make the celebration of his life can still pay their respects where Augie was laid to rest: in the Texas State Cemetery.