The University of the Pacific named Ryan Garko head coach of the Tigers baseball team, as the former big leaguer accepted the position Tuesday in Stockton.
Garko resigned his position as the manager of the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers to accept the head coaching job with Pacific. Garko has been the manager of the Drillers since September of 2015, managing players in the Dodgers system such as Cody Bellinger, Andrew Toles, Grant Dayton and Brock Stewart.
"It is an honor and privilege to serve as a head coach. It has always been my dream to have the opportunity to build a culture and lead a program as a head coach and impact the lives of young men," said Ryan Garko. "At the end of the day, whether coaching in minor league baseball or in the college ranks, we are developers of human beings masquerading as coaches. Everything that was applicable as a minor league coach that was important to me is transferable to the collegiate setting and I look forward to taking much of what I learned in Los Angeles and implementing it at Pacific."
He spent parts of six seasons in Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Indians (2005-2009), San Francisco Giants (2009) and Texas Rangers (2010), helping the Rangers to the 2010 AL Pennant. He hit .275 in the big leagues with 55 career home runs and 250 RBI to go with a .781 OPS as a first baseman, occasional outfielder and designated hitter.
Garko spent the 2011 season with the Samsung Lions in the Korean Baseball Organization, helping the Lions to the KBO championship.
He was a spring training invitee with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, and was assigned to the Montgomery Biscuits. In 2013 he received an invitation to spring training with the Colorado Rockies and turned to coaching after he didn't make the big league roster.
Garko was named an assistant coach at Stanford in August of 2013 and spent a year with the Cardinal as first base coach, recruiting coordinator, and instructor for developing hitters, infielders and catchers. The Cardinal came within a game of the College World Series in 2014, with 11 of his players that season went on to sign professional contracts.
While at Stanford, Garko helped land two recruiting classes that were nationally ranked by Perfect Game and Baseball America, and worked with both the Stanford Admissions office and the Athletic Academic Resource Center at Stanford to bring student-athletes with both athletic and academic talent to Stanford.
"We're very pleased to announce Coach Garko's arrival at Pacific," said Dr. Ted Leland, Director of Athletics. "Obviously, his baseball resume speaks for itself as a Major Leaguer, collegiate All-American and College World Series Legend. Ryan's enthusiasm for college baseball, and his experience in recruiting to a high academic standard were really what brought him to the forefront of our coaching search. I enjoyed watching Garko as a student-athlete and I look forward to watching him lead the future of Pacific Baseball."
Garko earned a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a focus in Politics, Policy and Economics at Stanford in 2003. He played at Stanford for three years, earning 2003 Co-Pac 10 Player of the Year, the 2003 Biff Hoffman Award, the 2003 Johnny Bench Award. He was an All-American in 2003 and a 2002 All Pac-10 selection. In 2011, he was named to the NCAA's College World Series Legends Team.
He and his wife Christie have two children, Olivia (born in 2013) and James (born in 2015).
What they're saying about Ryan Garko:
"Ryan really knows the game, but even more than that I think he's an incredibly likeable guy who has a great ability to build relationships and also can convey a sense of authority and purpose. I know when he was a AA manager we talked about a college coaching possibility, I think knowing the responsibility of having players the age of 18-21and how important those years are I think is something that he really enjoys and attracted him to the college opportunity."
Los Angeles Dodgers Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations
"Garko is a strong hire. Our organization will miss him and we wish him and his family the best of luck in Stockton. Garko brings strong communication skills, a warm and engaging personality, a solid baseball acumen and a high level of character. We trust that Garko's transition will be full of challenges that he's well equipped to handle. His flexibility and diligence will shine through, and he'll be capable of tackling anything thrown his way."
Los Angeles Dodgers Director, Player Development
"The great thing about Ryan is that he's got credibility with the young baseball players. He was an All-American, Johnny Bench Award winner at Stanford and was in the big leagues so he has the credibility and he doesn't have to work for that. Young players know that and he's young and managed in the minor leagues so he's covered all the bases so I think that gets his foot in the door as far as the collegiate role goes and one thing Ryan can do is recruit. He's a great recruiter in baseball and he's got that college baseball experience as a coach, has the professional baseball playing in the big leagues and also managed in the minor leagues so you can't find a better qualified coach that has the coverage of all of the baseball aspects.
I think it's a great hire for the University of the Pacific, that's my hometown, and I'm really excited about Ryan getting that job, he'll do a great job. He was on my staff at Stanford for a year and a great player in Stanford baseball history and played in the big leagues. It was a great experience and he's a great recruiter. He will get a lot of great talented high school players for University of the Pacific. So I think the program is in great hands and I think he will do a fantastic job."
Stanford baseball coach from 1977-2017.