Cliff Gustafson was a Texas high school and college baseball coach. He was the head coach of the University of Texas at Austin Longhorn baseball team for over twenty-seasons. Gustafson is known for his coaching skills that focused on sound defense, sound pitching and playing the percentages. Aside from that, he is also known for having an eye for talent and a moral compass that helped him recruit the right and deserving players. In this article, we are going to know more about the life and career of Cliff Gustafson.
Life and Career
Cliff Gustafson was born in Kenedy, Texas, on February 12, 1931. When he was in college, he played baseball for the University of Texas. In 1952, the team was able to win the Southwest Conference championship and enter the College World Series. During his college career, Gustafson managed to post a .384 batting average before he went on to play professional baseball.
After spending some time playing baseball professionally, Cliff Gustafson decided to start his coaching career at South San Antonio High School in 1953. He spent about 14 seasons coaching the Bobcats, and he managed to lead them to Texas Class 3A State Championship six times in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, and 1967.
In 1968, Cliff Gustafson reportedly hangs up the calls of the University of Texas football coach and athletic director, Darrell Royal, because he thought that it was all a prank phone call. After some explaining, Gustafson was offered to be the University of Texas’ baseball team coach. When he became the coach, the Longhorns entered twenty-two Southwest Conference Championships, two national championships in baseball during 1975 and 1983, as well as seventeen College World Series.
Several of the players that Gustafson coached went on to play Major League Baseball, and some of them were Billy Bates, Roger Clemens, Dennis Cook, Jerry Don Gleaton, Mike Brumley, Keith Creel, Bob Kearney, Shane Reynolds, Bruce Ruffin, J.D Smart. Scott Coolbaugh, Burt Hooton, Ron Gardenhire, Karl Pagel, Jim Gideon, Calvin Murray, Richard Wortham, Greg Swindell, Jose Tolentino, and Ricky Wright.
Because Gustafson showed that he loved what he is doing and proved to be great at it, he was inducted into the University of Texas Hall of Honor in 1983, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992. Besides that, he also got named National Coach of the Year in baseball in 1982 and 1983. He also received a James Keller Sportsmanship Award in 1998 and inaugurated as a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
He is known for teaching his team discipline and patience; that is why under his supervision, no team on any level managed to take more pitches than Texas. Besides that, he also respected his peers, and he is often described as the most helpful guy in college football. The players that he coached said that Cliff Gustafson doesn’t just coach them, he teaches them.
In 1996, Cliff Gustafson announced that he is going to retire from coaching. Today, he lives at his home in Austin, Texas, and he loves spending quality time with his family while supporting the University of Texas Longhorns.