Major League baseball player and manager Phil Garner graduated from UT in 1973 with a BS in business administration. As a UT baseball player, he was All-SEC in 1969 and 1970. The Montreal Expos drafted him in the eighth round of the 1970 draft, but he did not sign. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round (third pick) of the 1971 amateur draft (secondary phase) and made his debut as a member of that club on September 10, 1973. He played for the Athletics, 1973–76; for the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1977–81; for the Houston Astros, 1981–87; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1987; and San Francisco Giants, 1988. His final game was October 2, 1988. He played second and third base.
He was an important element in the Pirates’ 1979 World Series victory. In that series teammate Willie Stargell gave him the nickname “Scrap Iron.” He played in the All Star game in 1980 and 1981. In 1989 he became the Houston Astros’ first base coach (moving to third in 1991). He was hired at the end of the 1991 season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, was fired in August 1999, and went on to manage the Detroit Tigers for the 2000 season. He then went to the Houston Astros as manager. Following the Astros’ first World Series appearance in 2005 (swept by the Chicago White Sox), Houston extended his contract through 2007.
His number (18) was retired by UT at the February 19, 2009, Baseball Leadoff Banquet. An avid hunter, he is part owner of a hunting and fishing booking agency in Shreveport, Louisiana.