Augie Garrido was a record-setting slugger for the Fresno State baseball team who later pursued coaching and became the winningest dugout general in National Collegiate Athletic Association history, including five College World Series crowns. Garrido, coach of national powerhouse University of Texas since 1996, traces his success to former Fresno State skipper Pete Beiden, the legendary fundamentalist. "Fresno was the foundation of my baseball coaching career" Garrido said."Under Pete [Beiden] I realized the importance of a philosophy and why you do things."
When Vallejo-born Garrido put on his Fresno State Bulldog uniform for the first time in 1959, launching a three-year career with the 'Dogs, his dream was to become a major league outfielder. Coaching? He didn't think it was for him, or so he thought at the time. But he watched and took to heart some of Beiden's most successful, time-tested coaching tactics and strategies. Later, Garrido compiled a 1,629-755-8 record (.681) as a coach. In addition to the five national titles, he won twenty conference, eleven regional and four super-regional championships. He produced thirty-eight all-Americans and 64 professional players and was named conference Coach of the Year three times, Regional Coach six times and National Coach five times Garrido was inducted into halls of fame in Vallejo, Fresno, Fullerton, and Texas and is the subject of revealing 2008 television documentary produced for ESPN, Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach. He's also writing a book analyzing how self-confidence can help overcome fear.
Garrido grew up in a working-class family. His father was a shipyard employee at a Mare Island and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. But Garrido declined, pursuing college and a baseball scholarship. Garrido never forgot the emotional impact Beiden's words had on him as he led the Bulldogs to their first College World Series appearance in 1959. By the time he graduated in 1961, team captain Garrido had been named to All-Conference teams twice, hammered a school career .383 hitting average, and broke four single season records during 1961 by hitting 430 and slugging .711, including sixty-one hits and 101 total bases.
In 1966 following six seasons with various Cleveland Indian farm clubs, Garrido abandoned his career as a minor league player to take a coaching job at Sierra High School in Tollhouse. Garrido's first college coaching job was at San Francisco State (25-14) in 1969. He moved on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (86-62-1) from 1970 to 1972 which seasoned him for his next job at Cal State Fullerton. His association with Fullerton would extend over twenty-one years, interrupted by a three-year exodus to the University of Illinois (1988-1990). He was 111-57 in Champaign, including two Big 10 titles. He developed Fullerton into a national NCAA Division I power, winning three College World Series: 1979, 1984, and 1995. His 1995 team won 57 of 66 games, including a string of eighteen straight during a season-ending march to the CWS title. The Titans were 665-292-6 during Garrido's first stint as coach and 264-99 during his second.
Garrido took over at University of Texas in 1996, winning College World Series titles in 2002 and 2005, along with two Big 12 Conference crowns. Garrido is the only coach to guide teams from two different schools to CWS titles, and is also the only coach to claim national titles in four different decades. He was selected National Coach of the Year five times (1975, 1979, 1984, 1985, and 2002). After taking over the Longhorns, Garrido became pals with director and actor Kevin Costner, also an Austin resident. Costner cast Garrido as a major-Ieague manager in the movie, For Love of the Game. In real life,however, Garrido has rejected overtures to coach professional ball. "I just don't want to be there because I have a teacher's mentality," he said. "It's my job to help players find balance in their lives. I want to help them help themselves become what they want to be through the fundamentals of baseball."
Harry Miller said Lonnie Hughey was as good a basketball player as he had ever coached and one of the most enjoyable to be around. That was high praise from a former Fresno State coach who only had the 6'7" Hughey for one year and coached mostly winning collegiate basketball teams for thirty years. Hughey enrolled at Fresno State in 1965, and despite playing just two seasons, is among the best in per-game rebounds (15.1), career rebounds, and career scoring. He had seven thirty-point games with a tally of thirty-seven against Los Angeles State. He played one year for Miller and one year for Ed Gregory.
Hughey was the centerpiece of two of Coach Merritt Gilbert's Sierra High School champion teams, then spent two years with Joe Kelly at Fresno City College, winning a state title. Hughey held the Fresno City scoring record of 1,525 points from 1964 to 2003. He then played 85 games on the European tour and one year on a Belgium professional team, never missing a game. Late College of Sequoias coach Polly Wilhelmsen was upset with Hughey because he found him a job in Visalia for the summer and then he ended up at Fresno City College. "I was headed for Utah State until Harry Miller and Joe Kelly came to our home in Auberry. My dad liked both coaches and I did, too, and they told me they would get me a job with Pepsi through Bud Richter, so I went to Fresno City for two years and then to Fresno State. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't go to Utah State."
Hughey was blessed with a strong body. He was born in Fowler, but reared in the foothills of Auberry. Climbing the mountains surrounding Auberry helped him develop strong legs. "It is funny I never got hurt badly enough to miss a game on the basketball floor, but almost got killed by Vallejo fans at the end of the game where we won a semi-final state tournament game,"Hughey said. "We upset Tark's (Jerry Tarkanian's) unbeaten Riverside team in the opener and I scored twenty-four points and had twenty-two rebounds against Bob Rule, a really good center. Then, we played Vallejo and there was a big brawl at the end of the game. I got punched several times and some fans were coming after me with chairs when our assistant coach, John Toomasian, grabbed me and was able to get me out of there. He probably saved my life. I had a black eye and some bumps on my face."
Hughey recovered in time for the state title game, in which Fresno City College beat San Diego City College. In his sophomore season, the Rams lost to Allan Hancock College in the semi-finals and finished third. Teammates, Maurice Talbot and Miller said, "Lonnie had great tipping ability and a special way to grab rebounds with one hand and to shoot one-handed, [to] keep the ball alive and when he couldn’t grab it, he would tip it to a teammate, " Talbot said. "Most of his points came inside, but he had a good hook shot." Hughey, who was 6’7" and a slender 195 pounds at Fresno State said it was great having Talbot (6'5", 235 Ibs.) and Loren Thomsen (6'5", 245 lbs.) on either side. "They helped open up the middle for me,"Hughey explained. "As for rebounding,I used to tip the ball a lot in practice and watch how the ball came off the rim. I wasn't fast, but I was quick and that allowed me to take rebounds from bigger people."
Miller said he never had a player who was so easy to coach and pleasant to deal with. " He was an exceptional player and an exceptional person," Miller said. "He practiced as hard as he played. I can’t say he was my best player because I had a lot of good ones, but he was equal to any." In 1965, Fresno State captured the CCAA by winning thirteen of their final sixteen games. Seattle Pacific hosted the first round of the college division playoffs. Talbot was unable to play because the CCAA allowed players only two years in JC and three in college, but the NCAA did not.
Hughey was mugged by three players with no call. He threw an elbow to escape and the official ejected him along with Miller. After getting a technical for loudly protesting the call, Miller threw his coat on the floor and said, "you’ve got everything else; you might as well have my coat, too." The next year, under Coach Ed Gregory, Fresno State again won the CCAA, but Hughey said his most vivid memory of that year was a two-game series with University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). "It was the season that coach Don Haskins' team won the NCAA championship and we were playing two games in their gym," Hughey said. "The first night, we lost by two points and had a chance to win. The second night they beat us by fifteen. Gregory said when he met Haskins later that year, he said Fresno played them tougher than Kentucky did."
Fresno beat Nevada and Seattle Pacific to earn a trip to the college division championships in Evansville, Indiana, where they lost to Southern Illinois headed by guard Walt Frazier. Hughey was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors in the sixth round, was cut, and then signed on for an eighty-five game trip to Europe with an all-star team that traveled from Luxemburg to France. He played one year for Belgium and then came home to raise a family. Quite a career for a player who was 5'11" in his freshman season, grew five inches the next year, and ended up 6'7".
Winning more than eighty United States Tennis Association National Senior titles all after the age of sixty-four, Ruth Elaine Mason is a legend in her sport. She also traveled to colleges on both coasts, conducting instructional clinics for tennis teachers and coaches, and developed the concept of teaching children to play using a shorter racket. The Elaine Mason Tennis Book is still used as a college tennis text.
Mason, a former tennis coach at Fresno State, dominated senior singles and doubles events year after year in the late 1990s and into the next century, even returning to the National Seniors tour after knee replacement surgery in 2007. She was born in Selma and attended Washington Union High School in Easton. She graduated from Fresno State College and earned a Master's degree from Stanford University. Mason excelled at volleyball and tennis as a student, but gave up competitive sports for much of her adult life to focus on teaching, coaching, and sports instruction writing. She taught physical education at various high schools and at Fresno State from 1956-1979. She coached tennis at Fresno State from 1971-1978 and, for ten years, was a staff tennis instructor for teachers and coaches from around the world for the United State Teachers Workshop in Forest Hills, New York. She also traveled the country, conducting clinics for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and served on numerous state and national physical education committees.
At age sixty-four, Mason entered her first national tennis tournament and went on to win numerous United States Tennis Association Gold Tennis Ball awards for national titles, along with senior's titles in Europe, Africa and Australia. She said she had no regrets about not competing earlier in life. "I was so into teaching and coaching, I just wanted to be the best teacher I could be, especially with the children," Mason said. Her love for teaching tennis to children led her to develop the idea of using a shorter racket. She had a patent on the "short racket" concept for twenty-two years before big sporting goods companies began producing the rackets. She said it was difficult to compete with large corporations and declined to pursue the fight. Mason said she takes considerable pride from knowing that she guided countless young people to take up the game of tennis. Her place in tennis history is forever secured through her domination of the National Seniors tour for more than twenty years.
Coach Mike Noakes-whose high school teams won sixteen league championships and five section titles-was known as the fiercest of competitors who relished the battle and gave orders until the very last out. His respect for discipline and fundamentals was legendary in the valley. His competitive nature was balanced off the field with a mellow personality, a great smile, and keen sense of humor. Noakes was born in Taft, but moved to Fresno as a youngster. He was an all-star center fielder at Fresno High School and batted clean-up for the Warriors, who won the Central Section championship in 1957, Noakes' senior year. Valley sports historian Bob Barnett, said: "Johnny Callison, who played his high school ball in Bakersfield, and later starred for the Philadelphia Phillies, was said to be the best high school hitter in the Valley in 1957, but many said Mike Noakes was right up there with him, or better, during his senior year." Noakes played during Fresno High's baseball heydays under Ollie Bidwell with Jim Maloney, Lynn Rube, Pat Corrales, and Dick Ellsworth.
Their American Legion team went all the way to the state championship games in 1956 and 1957. Noakes also played at Fresno City College and the University of California, Berkeley. Counting Bidwell, Len Bourdette, and Pete Beiden as his mentors, Noakes began coaching as a graduate assistant at Fresno State under Beiden, launching a career that would include thirty-four years at the high-school level. Noakes set a record for wins in the Central Section with 708. Most of those victories were at Bullard High School, where his Knights won sixteen North Yosemite League championships and five Central Section titles. Twice, they won the NYL titles six years in a row. Bullard was ranked #1 in the state four times during Noakes tenure and were ranked #1 in the United States in 1993, the year that Noakes was named the National Coach of the Year by USA Today. The American Baseball Coaches Association named him the 1989 Coach of the Year when the Knights were ranked #2 in the nation. The team was ranked #1 again in the 1990 season. From 1990 to 1993, Bullard won thirty-seven consecutive NYL league games, one of the longest streaks in state history. During the 1980s, Bullard had the best record (227-50) in the state and during Noakes' last eight seasons at Bullard, the Knights won at least twenty games a year including an unbelievable 29-1 record in 1988. It's no surprise that Bullard's baseball stadium is named Mike Noakes Field. "I was definitely blessed over the years with great players who came to play, willing to work hard enough to win. We took practice as serious as the games. We tried to keep the atmosphere positive. I'd get on them, but I praised them as well," Noakes said. "It was also a combination of good assistant coaches over the years and the Bullard community was really a big part of it as well. Everyone was so loyal to the school. Still are. There were always the great crowds showing their support for the Knights."
The 1977 Bullard High baseball team with a record of thirty-one wins, one loss, and one tie sent three players to the major leagues: Dave Meier, Rex Hudler, and Steve Ellsworth. And while hundreds of Noakes' players went on to the college and professional ranks, even for many of those who didn't advance, the experience of playing Bullard baseball under Noakes made a difference in the rest of their lives. Nick Papagni, a pitcher, first baseman, and right fielder under Noakes stated, "It was so much fun. Games or practices were the same, no difference. Coach was great. You really knew he stood behind you. He gave us a lot of confidence and pumped us up. We worked harder than anybody and we just knew we were going to win." After a stellar career at Bullard High, Noakes coached for seven seasons at Central High School and also was the first base coach at Fresno City College.
Dan Takeuchi didn't take up weight lifting until he was fifty-four years old, going on to win gold medals as well as break masters and age division tournament and world records well into his golden years.
Takeuchi was born in Fresno and graduated from Sanger High School. He spent two and a half years in a Japanese internment camp in Jerome, Arizona during World War II. His family lost their San Joaquin Valley farm before the ordeal was over. When he returned to the Valley, he became a truck driver. Much later, he turned to weight lifting as a stress reliever. Takeuchi started lifting weighted broom handles improve his physique and clear his mind after work. Not long after, he was visiting the Central Valley YMCA and lifting real iron. Soon, he was working out two or three times a week with steadily heavier weights. Once he began to compete, he knew he had been gifted with the unusual ability to lift weights several times heavier than his 165-pound body weight.
An industrial accident nearly destroyed his left shoulder in 1990, but he didn't stop and went on to win the U.S., Pan American and World titles. In 2002, Takeuchi was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but continued to lift weights while successfully battling this disease. He became a regular speaker at cancer support groups and an advocate for early-detection cancer screening tests. Takeuchi admitted that training got more difficult as he got older and he worried more about injuries, but he focused on keeping his hips and knees in good shape: "That's key to weight lifting." Takeuchi estimated that he has competed in some 80 tournaments in state, country, and international competition, including six world championships, a dozen Pan-Am Games, and six national championships. Along the way, he broke at least ten world records.
In July 2008, he competed in the 160-165 middleweight division in the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico and set two world records. In the clean and jerk, he lifted 192 pounds, beating the world record by more than twenty pounds. He accomplished this feat despite only weighing 160 pounds at the time, slightly off his normal weight. Takeuchi also set two Pan-Am records, was voted the best in his age bracket, and was given the MVP Best of the Meet award for his overall performance.
Tommy Kono, one of the greatest weight lifters ever from the 1950s and 1960s with three Olympic medals, called Takeuchi an inspiration to older lifters. At the age of 66, Takeuchi was believed to be the first to lift 230 ¾ pounds above his head. When he was 68, he broke his own world records at the World Championships in Ontario, Canada with a clean and jerk of 231 ¾ pounds. After that meet, the U.S. team selection committee chose him to be the team flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies. "When you win a championship, you are a champion for one day because tomorrow is a new day," Takeuchi said.
Hans Wiedenhoefer Sr. was part of the original coaching staff when Fresno City College fielded a football team for the first time in 1948. He remained with the college for thirty-six years with six conference titles as head coach and two state titles in wrestling. He also was athletic director for twenty-five years, coached the golf team for twenty-eight years and assisted with the track squad for five years. He was truly a cornerstone of Fresno City College athletics.
Colleagues praised his ability as an administrator. "Sure, he would call you in for progress reports and any suggestions to help, but basically he gave you a job and let you do it," said long-time track and field coach Bob Fries. Bill Musick, the defensive coordinator when Wiedenhoefer was football coach added: "I loved the guy, he was such an interesting person. He could talk on just about any topic and give the history, background, anything you wanted to know. When Dennis DeLiddo was the wrestling coach, he said hardly a day went by that he didn't spend an hour in Hans' office just listening to his stories."Wiedenhoefer, who often lectured on history at City College, had served in World War Ilin the Pacific. He was nearly immortalized as one of the U.S. Marines raising the American flag on the island of Iwa Jima. After the ceremony, Wiedenhoefer had his picture taken with the flag atop the mountain where one of the bloodiest battles of World War II was fought. "The captain lined us up and said you, you, you, you andI was next in line" Wiedenhoefer said. " was also on the Hawaiian island of Oahu preparing for a football game when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor." Wiedenhocfer recalled that he and other players from San Jose State University and Willamette College football teams were at their hotel on Waikiki Beach on December 7, 1941 when they learned that their tour of the battleship U.S.S Arizona had been canceled and saw smoke rising from Pearl Harbor and planes flying. They would learn that some of the smoke came from the sinking Arizona. Wiedenhoefer said it was clear that this wasn't any kind of an military maneuver. The two teams had sailed to Hawaii on the U.S.S. Lurline from San Francisco for football games with the University of Hawaii. Instead, players on both teams were issued weapons and steel helmets to help hold off possible invasion.
Upon returning home, Wicdenhoefer and many others joined the Marines. Following his Marine discharge in 1946, Wiedenhoefer earned a master's degree at Stanford University and, in 1948, accepted a teaching/coaching assignment at Fresno City College as the line coach under head coach Stoney Johnson where he worked for his entire career. Wiedenhoefer was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, but was raised in San Francisco, where he excelled as an athlete for Lowell High School, then starred in football and wrestling for San Jose State.
At City College, his eight-year tenure as head football coach produced six conference titles and a list of noted players, including Tom Flores and Vestee Jackson. One of his first junior college All-Americans was Bill Herron. In 1958, his 8-2 team beat Sacramento City College in the annual Sanger Sequoia Bowl and that same year, his wrestling team tied for the state title. In 1959, he turned the football reigns over to Clare Slaughter and was named athletic director by school president Stuart White. He was the AD until he retired in 1984.
Wiedenhoefer was a true pioneer in wrestling. He coached the Rams to two state titles in nine seasons and organized the sport in several other community colleges. He was named wrestling coach of the year in 1959 and 1962 and coached twelve individual state champions. Wiedenhoefer also coached the golf team for twenty-eight years and helped with track for five years. He served on the President's Council for Physical Fitness. Hans was a world traveler and enjoyed studying East Germany's highly successful sports program. Wiedenhoefer died in 2006 at the age of eighty-six.