Former Texas player, coach returns to field after cancer battle

Nick Castillo

Tuesday night, Texas State’s head coach, Ty Harrington, made a surprise appearance at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in front of an unusually large crowd. 

Harrington, a former Texas player and coach, has been away from the Bobcats while he battles rectal cancer.

The former two-time Longhorn letterman hugged Texas head coach Augie Garrido at home plate as the crowd cheered after the opposing coaches exchanging lineup cards before the game.

Garrido said the embrace at the plate was emotional because of his friendship with Harrington.

“I know what he’s going through,” Garrido said. “I was with my mother when she went through that. She didn’t make it, but he did. So we thank God for that. It was very emotional.”

Harrington said the crowd’s response was uplifting, especially since he hasn’t been around the game for a while.

“The crowd was unbelievably gracious tonight to applaud me at the beginning of the game,” Harrington said. “I appreciate that from the Longhorn crowd, and I certainly appreciate that from Augie and his staff. … To have these kinds of things are heartfelt and nice. It makes you feel good.”

This was Harrington’s second appearance this season. His first was in Waco against Baylor on April 2.

During his playing days as a Longhorn, Harrington was a two-time letterman. He was infielder from 1984–1987 and went to the College World Series three times.

Harrington continued his time at Texas as a coach. He served as a student coach and a graduate assistant coach from 1988–1991. He moved to Arkansas State to become an assistant coach for the Red Wolves in 1992 before serving as head coach for Northeast Texas Community College in 1995 and Blinn College in 1999.

Harrington became the Bobcats’ head coach in 2000 and has lead Texas State to a 507–381–1 record, three Southland conference championships and three NCAA Regional Tournaments.

While Harrington enjoyed his time at the ballpark, he isn’t sure when he’ll be back full time. He said he’s hopeful that time will come soon, as he is done with his cancer treatment and is starting to feel better.

“I’m trying to work my way back in there,” Harrington said. “My first thought is I’ve got my health before the dugout. I don’t know that I’m ready to get in there and grind.”

Garrido said he has admired Harrington’s strength as he has battled cancer.

“I love what he’s had to go through and how he’s conquered it,” Garrido said. “I admire him. I respect him. And I love him for winning the battle.”

Texas ultimately won the game 7–3, but the play on the diamond only served as a backdrop to an emotional night at the ballpark.