The Howard Family – A Baseball “Circle of Life”
by Olivia Hemmerich
Baseball has always been an important part of the Howard family. This season they have a lot to celebrate; it has been an impressive year. I had the rare opportunity to sit down with two members of the Howard family- a son selected in the MLB draft and a father recognized nationally.
Will Howard took the field in front of 6,441 fans last week and for the first time in his professional career his dad was in the stands.
“It feels good to have this moment in my life, something I worked for and sacrificed for but not just for me. My whole family sacrificed for me to go to school and get here today,” commented the IronBirds’ outfielder before the game. “It’s the first professional game he will get to see me play and I feel good about it. I’m pumped he got to come up here and watch, my mom is here too- its definitely a good night for the Howard family.”
Bobby Howard was not only in Aberdeen as a proud father that night but as his son’s former coach as well. But Bobby Howard is not just some coach. After twelve state crowns and six state runner-up finishes, he can now add ESPNHS National Baseball Coach of the Year to his resume.
“I think he deserves it, he is one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen. He works extremely hard, no one sees the hours he puts in, he’s always looking to get better,” said Will of his father with immense respect and pride. “It helps me as a player because I look at him as a coach and he won so much and he continues to work so hard. It’s a good thing for me to look up to because it gives me the drive to come out here everyday and try to get better, to strive for more.”
As head coach of the Columbus (Ga.) baseball team, Bobby coached his team to a 33-4 finish and the No. 2 spot in the final 2012 Powerade FAB 50 national high school rankings. The team won a state-record-tying 12th title, a three-peat after winning Class AAA state titles in 2010 and 2011.
“The coach of the year award was more of a credit to my players, we just had outstanding power, they were just so good that I couldn’t screw them up,” said Bobby humbly. “There was a lot of pressure and expectation since we won it two years in a row and our kids just responded.”
Will was selected by the Baltimore Orioles organization in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft. “He has always had a bit of a bull’s eye on his back in baseball because of the shadow I have overcast. He has always been under the microscope and he has over come that,” praised Bobby while he watched his son warm-up.
Ripken Stadium holds a history for the father and son as well. In 2005, Bobby coached the Aflac All-American game in Aberdeen and his son was right beside him. As a sophomore in high school Will watched his father coach on the same field he is now playing on at the professional level, sat in the same dug out that he now comes out of each game and entered the same locker room that he can now call his own.
“I tell you what is ironic about it, I coached in the same stadium while Will was right there with me,” said Bobby. It’s funny how things workout- it’s a baseball circle there.”
Baseball has not only been a sport in the Howard family but a way of life, a tradition for father and son. “Playing for my dad was something I always wanted to do growing up. I was always the little kid in the dugout when he was coaching high school and so when I finally got to do it, it was a great experience,” Will said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world and it is pretty special to me to be playing here now for him see.”