Bridging the generational gap: Austin’s Huffman shares love of baseball with his son

11 July 2023

When Joe Huffman enters Marcusen Park, he is flooded with memories, but he’s not done with Austin’s historic baseball diamond quite yet.

Joe, who graduated from AHS in 2000, has seen many life changing moments take place at Marcusen. He married his wife Ellie on the infield, and he also played VFW and amateur baseball at the Park.

“When I was a kid, this was the place. The Southern Minny Stars were playing here and you had Juan Berenguer and Ariel Martin playing,” Joe said. “To get to play here for the VFW, it was pretty cool. This is what I think of when I think of Austin baseball.”

Joe took a break from baseball six years ago, but with his son Nolan turning 12 years old, he’s thrown himself back into the sport. Joe is coaching the Austin 12A All-Star baseball team and he’s also come back and pitched a few games for the Austin Greyhounds.

Both tasks have proved challenging and rewarding.

“In the first game (with the Hounds), we had a bunch of the players on the team and their parents come out and support me. It got my adrenaline going pretty good,” Joe said. “Hopefully Nolan’s learning a little bit from me. He’s keeping me young and he’s putting me in my place a little bit too. Sometimes he’ll ask why I threw a curveball when the guy wasn’t hitting my fastball.”

Nolan has been able to build a strong bond with his father through baseball, even if he isn’t overly impressed with his dad’s fast ball anymore.

“He looked really old out there,” Nolan said of watching Joe pitch for the Hounds.

Nolan, who attends Pacelli Catholic Schools, has gained a greater appreciation for baseball in recent years and he’s also stayed busy by playing wiffle ball with friends. He also gets the occasional game of catch in with his dad.

When it’s game time, the two Huffmans are on the same page as Nolan is also a pitcher.

“He’s coached me the whole time, so it’s nothing different. We get along great,” Nolan said.

While Nolan isn’t familiar with the Southern Minny Stars, he has gained an appreciation for Angels’ superstar Shohei Ohtani.

“He can pitch and hit at the same time,” Nolan said. “I try to do it, but it’s hard to be good at both.”

Coaching All-Stars baseball has been a trip down memory lane for Joe, who played on Gabby Weiss’s 12-year-old All-Star team when he was a kid.

“All of the kids looked forward to playing All-Stars back then,” Joe said. “This was the first year that Nolan wanted to play travel ball.”

As a coach, Huffman has had to adjust to following regulations, scheduling tournaments and doing all of the other work behind the scenes besides the things that happen on the field, where he is very much in his element.

“We’ve got 12 good kids on the  team and it’s been good,” Joe said.

Baseball fans may see Nolan’s first name and wonder if he was given the namesake of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. The answer is complicated.

Joe’s wife Ellie originally suggested the name and Joe was more than happy to go along with it.

“I was all for it,” Joe said. “I used to collect baseball cards and Nolan Ryan was one of the better cards you could get.”

With Nolan going to Pacelli, he will eventually play baseball at Marcusen Park, just like his dad. He’s already working on trying to one-up Joe as Nolan has learned to throw a wicked wiffle ball against his dad in the backyard.

“He owns me quite a bit when I hit against him and he makes me look pretty silly with a wiffle ball,” Joe said. “He and his buddies are all in with baseball and I was super excited about that. I was never a parent to push him into something that I wanted him to do. I introduced him to it and in the last couple of years  he’s fallen in love with baseball and it’s been great.”

The post Bridging the generational gap: Austin’s Huffman shares love of baseball with his son appeared first on Austin Daily Herald.

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