CAREER MILESTONEPublished 10:31pm Monday, March 3, 2014
Pike’s Butch Austin picks up win No. 400 as coach
To get a sense of how important Butch Austin is to Troy-area baseball, all one has to do is glance at the outfield wall of each of the two high school fields in town.
Austin’s name is on both.
His jersey number is retired at Charles Henderson and the field at Pike Liberal Arts is named in his honor.
Austin has been the head coach of the Patriots for two decades, and scored his 400th career win on Saturday with a 4-3 victory over Marengo Academy.
“We have had some really good baseball teams over the years, and I have had the blessing of coaching some really good ball players,” said Austin with a laugh. “If it hadn’t of been for all my mistakes, we would probably have 500.”
Despite the success, Austin is quick to deflect the praise to his players.
“I have never gotten a base hit or hit a home run,” said Austin. “I haven’t thrown a pitch, caught a fly or beat out a ground ball. The kids are the ones that win the ball games. I just try to help them be in the right spot. They make all the plays.”
Following a win at Northside Methodist on Monday, Austin’s record now stands at 401-142, and while every win is special, he does point to one that is the cream of the crop.
Pike won the 2012 AISA AAA State Championship in a wild game against Tuscaloosa Academy.
Trailing 10-1, the Patriots scored 14 runs in the fifth inning to take a 15-10 lead that would stand to not only give Pike the game and the best-of-three series victory but also hand the school its first ever state championship in baseball.
“We sent 19 men to the plate, scored 14 runs and left two on base,” said Austin. “I don’t know if I will ever see anything like that again. We had been close a lot of times, but to finally win it and see the kids so happy, and the fans so happy, it means a lot. I will never forget that day.”
With the Patriots gearing up for another run at the state championship this season, Austin has mad no plans to hand up his cleats anytime soon.
“I don’t know when I will retire,” said Austin. “We are just worried about hitting, fielding and pitching. I don’t have time to worry with other things.”