For the past few years, the Keene State College baseball team has known Dustin Howe, the coach’s son, as the kid who would show up at practices just to hang out.
So as you might imagine, the transition has been easy for Howe as he begins his freshman season at first base for the Owls.
“We all kind of expected Dustin to be on the team eventually,” junior catcher Andrew Gummow said, “We’ve seen him around [the program] for a while.”
Dustin claims he’s known he was going to play for his dad since he was a freshman in high school. For Ken Howe, who’s now in his twenty-sixth year as coach at KSC, Dustin might have been his easiest recruit ever.
“Well I know his mom pretty well so I had an in there,” Coach Howe said sarcastically.
So after spending a year at junior college, Dustin got into Keene State College, the only school he applied to.
Now the challenge for Dustin is carving out a role on his father’s team. Because whether or not you celebrate Christmas together, Coach Howe has made it clear if you can’t hit a curveball, you won’t be seeing much game action.
“The guys joke about him playing favorites,” Dustin said, “But when it comes to baseball [Ken] is a coach first. I think he’s actually harder on me than the other guys.”
Dustin said the talent and atmosphere at the college level are completely different and it’s clear Ken is going to allow his son to develop on the junior varsity team for at least some of the year. “He’s doing a good job,” Ken said. “He’s a freshman so he’s still learning. He’s got things to work on just like everybody else.”
Although he’s familiar with Dustin’s game (his scouting tapes double as home movies), Ken actually hasn’t ever coached his son before.
“It’s fun. It’s definitely an experience,” Ken said.
“But I get paid to coach a baseball team, not my son, so if he messes up he’s going to get yelled at just like everybody else.” The rest of the family approves of their unique situation. While Dustin gets to play for his dad, there are obvious benefits to Ken being able to keep a close eye on his son away from home. While checking report cards used to be Ken’s responsibility as a parent, it now becomes part of his job description.
“It’s nice, he’s not doing anything to be a headache,” Ken said. “Which is good because he’d get it worse from me because I’m his father.”
“He’s harder on me than the other guys because he has to be,” Dustin said.
Both Howes seem to understand the situation enough to ensure that there won’t be any added tension at the next family dinner because of something that happens on the field.
“I don’t think there’s favorites in sports,” Ken Howe said. “As a coach I just want to put the best guys out there day in and day out,” he said. So far it seems the father and son are handling the possible conflict of interest quite well.
Zach Winn can be contacted at