The University of the Pacific named Ryan Garko head coach of the Tigers baseball team on July 25 when the former major league first baseman accepted the position 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 such players in the Dodgers system 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,” Garko said upon being named head coach. “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 guide 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. Eleven Stanford 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 at the University of the Pacific. “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 and 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.