Father, son enjoy playing on Albion team
EDGERTON For better or worse, many fathers coach their sons’ or daughters’ sports teams, but few fathers get to play competitively with their offspring.
Josh Eastman’s favorite teammate on the Albion Tigers in Home Talent League baseball is his father, Jim.
The 20-year-old Josh has played with his dad since he was 17, and he thinks it’s special.
“How many people can say they played (competitive baseball) with their dad,” Josh said. “It’s just a great experience, and I don’t really know how to explain it.’’
Jim Eastman has been with the Tigers for 23 years as a top-notch player, coach and general manager.
“Jim used to run the team,” said Ben Towns, the Tigers’ player-manager for the last seven seasons. “He revived the Tigers as general manager and was the team’s best player. He was a one-man show. It’s a huge part of his life.’’
Playing with Josh has put a new spring into Jim’s step and given more meaning to his reason for playing.
“I told the guys that I’m going to play until I can play with Josh,” said the 40-year-old Eastman. “I keep saying one more year, one more year, but I just keep feeling better.’’
Jim said Josh makes him a better player.
“It makes me try harder,” said Jim, who is the Tigers’ oldest player. “A lot kids that are on the team, I coached.’’
Jim started as a center fielder and second baseman at Edgerton High School. He joined the Madison Area Technical College team for two years and then played for Albion.
Josh thinks his dad is going to be around for a long time.
“He won’t give it up until he is 50 years old,” Josh said with a chuckle.
Meanwhile, Jim confidently keeps a straight face.
“Jim is still one of our better players,” Towns said. “He is in the lineup every Sunday. He is a veteran and a smart player and a major contributor.’’
When Jim began playing with Josh, Towns said, the team could feel the special father-son bond.
“To have his son play with him, and the first year they played together, it was a proud time,’’ Towns said.
Jim beams when Josh does well, and they celebrate their successes.
“One of the neatest things to see is when one gets a big hit or makes a play, to see father and son high-five each other,” Towns said.
Jim and his wife, Tonya, have three children. Jim has coached Josh and his older son, Justin, in baseball and his 15-year-old daughter, Tiana, in softball.
Josh enjoys getting advice from his father.
“I’ve always taken pointers from him,” Josh said. “That’s the good thing about it, getting the pointers from him.
“You have those times when he gets on your nerves, but he is a down-to-earth guy who wants to help people. He is not the kind of guy who puts people down.’’
Towns said it’s easy to see Jim’s influence on Josh.
“You see a lot of Jim in Josh,” Towns said. “Jim is reserved and humble with his success. Jim was a very good high school and college player, but you won’t ever hear him talk about that, and you see a lot of that in Josh.’’
Josh, also an Edgerton High graduate, is a former Rock Valley Conference Player of the Year. He was the Tigers’ leading hitter and run-producer last season and is enjoying a good start this season.
“Josh bats right in the middle of our lineup,” Towns said. “He plays second, third, the outfield, and he pitches. He is a real versatile player.’’
After an unsuccessful bid to play for UW-Whitewater the last two seasons, Josh has transferred to the University of Dubuque to take another shot at collegiate baseball.
“I just need a little change,” Josh said. “That’s one thing I don’t want to regret 10 years down the road—not playing (college baseball).”
Among Jim’s and Josh’s fondest memories is a double play they helped turn during Josh’s second season with the Tigers.
“It was pretty cool,” Jim said.
This Sunday, Jim, Josh and the Tigers travel to Deerfield. A Father’s Day victory would be pretty cool, too.