Garko returns to Stanford roots as an assistant | September 27, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 27, 2013

Garko returns to Stanford roots as an assistant

Ryan Garko has been added to the Stanford baseball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Mark Marquess announced Monday. Garko, a 2003 Stanford graduate, joins his alma mater after a 10-year professional baseball career, including five seasons in Major League Baseball.

"For myself and my family, we're very excited and humbled to even have this opportunity. There is no coach I'd rather work with than Coach Marquess," said Garko. "There is no other program or university I'd rather be a part of than Stanford. It's the best university in the world, and most importantly, every baseball student-athlete here is a special player and young man. The opportunity to come back and coach student-athletes like ours and help them achieve their goals of getting a degree and maximizing their ability as a player is a dream come true."

Garko will fill the void left by Dean Stotz after the long-time Stanford assistant retired after 37 seasons on The Farm.

"The most important thing needs to be celebrating the career Dean Stotz had here and the program that he helped build," added Garko. "I was one of his players, and he helped me grow from a young kid into a young man. He helped me achieve my dreams of earning a Stanford degree and playing in the major leagues. He had a profound influence on every player to wear a Stanford jersey."

"You can't replace a coach like Dean Stotz, but we're very fortunate to have Ryan Garko join our staff," Marquess said. "It will be a good fit for us, and he'll bring a lot of enthusiasm and experience to our program. We're thrilled that it worked out and the timing was great for both Ryan and our program."

Garko played for three teams over the course of his MLB career. More than two of those seasons were spent with the Cleveland Indians along with stints with the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. He hit .275 in 463 career games, belted 55 home runs and drove in 250 runs while playing primarily at first base.

The native of Walnut made his MLB debut with the Indians on Sept. 18, 2005, after spending three seasons in the minor leagues. Cleveland initially acquired Garko in the third round of the 2003 MLB Draft and he quickly moved through the team's farm system.

He played 50 games with the Indians in 2006, hitting .292 in 185 at-bats, and won the starting first baseman job with the club the following season. Garko's first full season of MLB action saw him bat .289 with 21 homers and 61 RBI. In 2008, he once again started for Cleveland and drove in a career-high 90 runs while hitting .273. After moving from Cleveland to San Francisco to Texas from 2009 to 2010, Garko played for the Samsung Lions (Korea) in 2011 and spent 2012 in the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system.

Garko was a staple in the Cardinal lineup for three seasons at Stanford. In 218 career games, he hit .350 with 60 doubles, 39 home runs and 191 runs batted, while leading some of the most successful teams in program history. He still ranks among the Cardinal's best in doubles (7th), RBI (7th), batting average (9th) and home runs (9th).

A highly touted recruit out of Anaheim's Servite High School, Garko made his mark on The Farm as a three-year starter. He led the Cardinal in hitting as a sophomore in 2001 with a .398 average and as a senior at .402.

During Garko's four years at Stanford, the program went 199-69 (.743) and qualified for the College World Series in each of his seasons. He hit .583 in Omaha, a mark that helped the Cardinal to three second-place finishes and another third-place showing. He was selected to two CWS All-Tournament teams (2001, 2003) and was later named to the College World Series Legends Team along with 27 of the top CWS alumni.

Garko's success at Stanford continued throughout his career. As a senior he took home the Johnny Bench Award, presented to the nation's best collegiate catcher, and shared the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year Award with Arizona State's Dustin Pedroia. Garko was also named the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Regional and was selected as Stanford's MVP.