Inning By Inning: A Portrait of a Coach (2009)

NCAA Baseball Coach Augie Garrido

Thanks to the people at Cinetic FilmBuff I was asked to do a review of this fine documentary by Richard Linklater. Aside from the facts and quotes that I’ve compiled in this review you’ll find sessions with Coach Augie Garrido himself, former players (some who are or have been MLB players), fellow coaches and friends as well as video from games, practices and locker rooms. If these facts and quotes strike a cord with you like they did in me, you should rush out and get this DVD as soon as you can! (slight warning: there is some language in parts of this film)

The Most Successful NCAA Baseball Coach

The numbers speak for themselves…

He has won NCAA Division 1 Championships in four decades
Five National Titles with two schools
The most division 1 wins by any other baseball coach in the NCAA

The Man

In the video, Garrido is called a nice guy that can motivate his players either by pleading with them or by their pure love for the guy and their unwillingness to disappoint him. It was also said that he gives from himself (NOT “x’s” and “o’s”) to his players for their benefit, not his own. He not only teaches baseball to his players, but life lessons as well. He cares about relationships a lot and claims that he doesn’t even have many hobbies, if any.

The Player

In his own playing days, Augie Garrido was a vesitle player…a fan favorite and a student of the game. He graduated from Fresno State in 1961 where he played three seasons with the school’s Bulldogs. He earns All-Conference recognition with the Bulldogs and played in the 1959 College World Series. After college he signed a professional contract with the Cleveland Indians and plays six years in their minor league system before heading back to college to become a coach at San Francisco State in 1969. His ultimate goal was not to be a major league ball player, he was just 26 years old when he quit playing for the Indians organization so that he could coach!

His coach at Fresno State, Pete Beiden, was also Garrido’s mentor who displayed great fundamentals (the finest in baseball history some have said) and Garrido was like a spone around him (Beiden). Beiden was known to show rough love towards his players, but that is where Garrido differed from his mentor as he is known for doing the opposite.

The Coach

Univ. of Texas at Austin Coach Augie Garrido

It is said that he gets the best performances out of his players because his teaching/coaching is fundamentally strong: bunting, stealing & hitting the cutoff man every time!

He learned how to organize practices from watching football coaches run their practices. Likewise, he learned how to implement rhythm and timing into his practices from watching basketball coaches run their practices.

Garrido changes his coaching focus based upon the characteristics of his current players and does not force them to comply to his system. In my opinion, this is how he has been so good for so long. Most managers would be too prideful to do this thinking that it’s due in large part to their abilities to manage rather than getting each and every player to play at his best year in and year out.

Furthermore, he is known for not being a yeller, but when he does…watch out! It comes out in times when he thinks he’s failing (not his players). Which in turn usually leaves the players feeling like they let Coach Garrido down. Which is a testament to the relationship he builds with his players and how he truely does care for each one of them (and their family: see the quote below for the context).

One would think that with all of his success at the highest level in college baseball (NCAA Division 1) that MLB teams would be knocking down his door trying to sweep him off his feet to manage their club, but Garrido has no aspirations to be a Major League Manager. He doesn’t, by his own admission, belong there (MLB), he has a teacher’s mentality and college baseball fits that like a glove.

Instead, he choose to replace legendary coach of the University of Texas at Austin, Cliff Gustafson. At the time of Gustafson’s retirement, after the 1996 season, he was the most successful head coach in NCAA Division 1 baseball of all time. His reasoning…he just wanted to see if he could do it! Garrido, a sensative guy, had a tough time of it during his first three years there due in large part by the local (and national) media. Then in 2002, in his sixth year in Texas, he led the Longhorns to the first College World Series title with him at the helm. A feat he duplicated in 2005 and in that year, Garrido surpassed Gustafson as the most successful head coach in NCAA Division 1 baseball of all time!

The Quotes: “Augieisms”

It are these gems that, in my most humble opinion, make this documentary a great one on Coach Garrido. Some of these make you want to go out and be a baseball coach…or is it just me? I did start my collegiate career in a pursuit to become a baseball coach!

On talking about his evaluation of the value of baseball…

“you want them (your players) to take risks, you want them to fail so that the player finds out more about themselves…then the coach comes in support of those failures, he likes to think that they (the coaches) encourage those failures (for the player’s benefit).”

On baseball in general…

Richard Linklater and Augie Garrido

Image by ilovemypit via Flickr of director Richard Linklater and Augie Garrido

“Baseball screws everybody! It takes no sides, it’s a game of failure”

“Baseball in and of itself is very cruel, because it hurts the people I (Coach Garrido) care about. I care about the players, I care about their parents, I care about their grandparents. It hurts them, it hurts them a lot and it hurts them often so I see it as pretty cruel.”

It’s a game of “confidence verses fear and confidence isn’t as strong as fear”

“The Little League Manual says, “baseball builds character”, but Garrido has learned that is not true, “it reveals charatcer, your heart and your soul”

Coach Garrido’s Simple Formula…

“eliminate the fear, it’s fun. Stay with the process, eliminate the reward, it’s fun. If you want to have fun playing baseball, play it for the right reasons: your growth, your development, your performances.”

Coach Garrido on the correct positioning for a second baseman…

“10 steps off the base and eight steps deep equals home base (for that position).”

For The Love of the Game…

“It wasn’t the game that I loved, it was the people involved with the game and the relationships and the experiences.”

What I would like to know is why he uses the past tense when he’s still actively coaching.

To his players…

“Do your best, you’re going to fail, so do your best again”

“…it doesn’t have to be a failure, it’s an experience and it’s an opportunity to learn”

“Get it (the game) down to one inning, pitch by pitch, play by play. A winner or loser on every pitch. Now it’s about who is mentally the toughest.”

“When you strive for perfection, you learn things”

“if you want to be who you’re meant to be, not who you want to be, because once you fulfill that you have something to give back to others that matters.”

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