‘Hangin’ them up’Published 10:31pm Monday, April 7, 2014
Pike’s Butch Austin announces 2014 will be his final season as head coach
For over 20 years Butch Austin has been hard at work everyday by 9 a.m. But all that may change soon.
Austin told The Messenger on Monday that 2014 will be his final season as head coach of the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots baseball team.
In 21 seasons as head coach Austin has amassed over 400 wins, and lost less than 100. He guided Pike to the AISA AAA State Championship in 2012, and the Patriots made appearances in the title series on two separate occasions.
“I will miss the kids, and I will miss not having my day planned out when I get up is what I will miss the most,” said Austin with a smile. “I am up here about nine every morning and don’t leave until six or seven at night. I will miss the kids a lot as well; there is no question about that. I have been able to teach them things over the years, but they have taught me just as much.”
Austin served as an assistant coach at Charles Henderson in the 1980s under Mike Hogan, and helped guide the Trojans to several successful seasons.
After leaving Charles Henderson, Austin didn’t think much about coaching until one night Pike Liberal Arts principal Delaney Kervin and School Board president Danny Rachel knocked on his door and changed his life forever.
“In 1993, they came to my house and Mr. Kervin told me that they wanted a baseball program that could compete with any in the state,” Austin said. “They asked me to be the coach, and I think through the work of the kids and myself through the years, we have been able to get Mr. Kervin what he wanted. This school changed my life, and I will support them in whatever way I can.”
The field at Pike Liberal Arts is named in his honor and his jersey number, 20, is retired at Charles Henderson.
Austin has always answered the retirement question the same way: “When I know, I’ll know.” He said he finally came to a decision shortly after Pike hosted the Jonah McWaters Tournament in March.
“The tournament was tough on me,” said Austin. “I am just not able to do the long day and late nights like I could a few years ago. It’s time for me to do something else, and for the school to get someone in here that is a little younger. I will miss the school, but it is just time.”
While Austin said he isn’t quit sure what he is going to do on a day-to-day basis in his retirement days, he assures fans he will be around the ballpark in the spring.
“I am going to support the folks here at Pike and I will support Charles Henderson as well,” said Austin. “I am going to be around. I may get an itch to get to the field in the spring, but I don’t want to be a head coach. I love the game of baseball and may lend a hand here or there with someone, but this is it for me as a head coach.”