One week to the day that Allen Watson stepped aside as head coach of the Christ the King varsity baseball team, replaced by assistant coach Billy Oettinger, the former Major League pitcher was back coaching the Royals while Oettinger was nowhere to be seen at Juniper Valley Park.
No, Watson and Oettinger didn't have changes of heart. Watson was filling in for Oettinger, who was unable to attend Monday's league game against St. Francis Prep because of personal reasons.
With a four-month-old son named Allen Louis (his middle name is because Watson was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals), Watson said he doesn't have the time to dedicate himself full time to the team. He takes care of his son during the day and is relieved by his wife, a teacher, who usually doesn't arrive until 3:45 p.m.
"The earliest I can get there is probably 4 p.m. and it's not fair to the kids," Watson said.
Now, Watson plans to oversee the entire Christ the King baseball program, "like a roving instructor," he said.
When Watson broke the news to the team, it was an emotional meeting. Especially for star pitching Greg Downing, who credits Watson with his full scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design, an NAIA school in Georgia.
"When he told me that night, I was almost in tears," Downing said. "There's no one better to learn from. He pitched in the majors. He knows everything. He makes me that much better."
Oettinger resigned as Cathedral Prep head coach after leading the Crusaders to the CHSAA Class B intersectional title last year so he could spend more time with his kids, especially 11-year-old Chris. That's why he accepted Watson's invitation to be an assistant coach at Christ the King, where Oettinger previously served as a junior varsity head coach when Watson was a freshman in 1984.
"I had no idea this was going to happen," Oettinger said. "I didn't want this to happen this year."
But Oettinger also didn't want to strand a team that is winless in six league games.
"We're in every game," Oettinger said. "We're not catching any breaks."
That much was evident Monday. A couple of fielding mistakes opened the door for a four-run fourth inning for St. Francis Prep and Christ the King stranded the bases loaded without scoring a run in the sixth inning, falling to the Terriers, 5-2.
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at dbutler@ti
©2008 Community News Group
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