Kyle and Eric Altizer have a unique relationship as baseball player and coach, and son and father. The bond has been special to watch as the Auburn High School varsity baseball team makes a run deep into this year’s 1A state playoffs.
Eric said Wednesday that it has been emotional at times, and it has been special to watch Eric four of the five years.
“I know people always wonder about a father coaching his own son, but I have been tough on him and we get along the best when we are on the baseball field,” Eric said.
Kyle points to a magical connection between the two.
“We think a lot alike on the field. I will do something and look at him and he just nods his head. It has been really special to have him teaching me,” he said.
The duo has brought home coach and player of the year honors this spring in Conference 45, and Kyle also was player of the year last year at his catching position.
The team is 22-1 this season going into state play on Friday and compiled a 17-7 record last year. Eric Altizer has coached the varsity the last two years after being promoted from his jayvee post which he held for three years prior. He also had a varsity stint from 1999-2008.
“This is such a great team this year. We have had fun. Of course, we did last year too, but this year we had a little different expectations. It was much higher this year,” the coach said.
Auburn lost in the state quarterfinals last season and was determined to go further this season.
“Losing last year left a sour taste in our mouths. Pitching and hitting has brought us to where we are this year,” Kyle said.
The scoring margin is wide as the Eagles only allowed 25 runs to be scored in the first 22 games. On the flip side, they have scored 233 runs.
This season, Kyle has a .456 batting average with 35 RBIs. He has also thrown out one runner stealing and picked off seven from behind the play.
Eric has coached his son four years on the varsity level and for as many another five on travel youth baseball teams.
Catching has been a way of life of Kyle. On his fifth birthday, he even asked for catcher’s equipment and his aunt bought it for him. He did play some shortstop his sophomore year, but other than that, it has been nothing but behind the plate.
Receiving the conference player of the year award for two-straight years has meant a lot to Kyle, the player. He said it would mean even more if the Eagles, as a team, could bring back the state championship.
Kyle does not plan to continue his playing career past this weekend and is officially hanging up his cleats. According to Coach Altizer, several collegiate teams have inquired about his son playing at the next level, but he personally just wants to stop playing.
But there is another Altizer baseball player in the mix as his youngest brother is still playing travel ball and will soon be in middle school.
Eric has not stated if he will hang around to coach another son, but we will see.