McCollough: Butch’s 400 wins are proof that good guys can finish firstPublished 10:35pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Butch Austin is a legend in Troy baseball. You don’t need me to tell you that, I’m sure you already knew it. I didn’t grew up in Troy, and didn’t know who Coach Austin was until I began working for the paper back a few years ago.
But since the first conversation I had with him, as he sat on a picnic table behind the backstop at the filed that is named after him, I knew that he wasn’t your average coach.
Austin won his 400th game over the weekend at a tournament in Selma, which is an amazing feat. In 21 seasons as the head coach of the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots have averaged right at 20 wins a season. Over the same span, the Pats have averages just seven losses a year.
He won a state championship back in 2012, following a wild win over Tuscaloosa Academy. His players carried him off the field, and catcher Blake Floyd gave Austin a big hug near the first base line while the rest of the team dogpiled at the pitcher’s mound.
That right there says all you need to know about the respect he gets from his players.
The numbers speak for themselves, but in my opinion Austin’s best coaching tool is how he gets the most out of his players. He is respected by every baseball player in the area, and I firmly feel all the players that have suited up for him consider it an honor to have done so. In a time where teenager’s attention spans are short, he has a very unique ability to get players that are 50 years his junior to hang on every word he says.
You won’t find anyone in Troy that will speak ill of Austin, because frankly, there isn’t any traction to do so. I didn’t play for Austin. I didn’t coach alongside him.
But I have had numerous interviews, conversations and chats with him, and every time I come away with more common sense and baseball knowledge.
While the wins and stats may be the reason his name is on the outfield wall of both high school baseball fields in town, it is the respect for his players, his fatherly approach to coaching and love for the game of baseball that people will remember long after Butch hangs up the spikes.