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Father, son reflect on exciting season as Windsor Knights

Alex and Austin Sabean, father and son, are also teammates on the Windsor Knights intermediate baseball team.
Alex and Austin Sabean, father and son, are also teammates on the Windsor Knights intermediate baseball team. - Colin Chisholm

NSIBL win a cathartic moment for team coming out of the shadows

WINDSOR, N.S. - Alex and Austin Sabean both erupt in excitement — it's finally happened. In August, the Windsor Knights won the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League championship.

It’s a special moment for the whole team but, for them, it’s a moment they shared as father and son.

Alex Sabean is No. 33 with the Windsor Knights. He coaches and pitches. Austin Sabean, his son, is No. 22 on the team and the shortstop.

“I’ve been with the program since I was five or six,” Alex said. “We’re lifelong members, definitely.”

Alex did take some time to play with the Hantsport Shamrocks in the late 1990s. At the time, they were affiliated with the Kentville Wildcats and Alex wanted a chance to play senior baseball on that team.

He played there for approximately four years, being on the team when they won the championship in 2000 and hosted the nationals in 2001.

He came back to the Windsor Knights intermediate team in 2005.

“There’s always been a rivalry between Windsor and Hantsport, and when I left to go to Hantsport, I told the guys… I wanted to use it to get to Kentville,” he said.

“Then when I came back here, it was amazing — a lot of the guys were still on the team,” he said.

“A close buddy of mine, Paul Humphreys, we both went to Hantsport for a bit then he went to play senior in Sackville… I convinced him to come back with me in ‘05,” he said. “Austin was still playing t-ball at that time, but he was coming to our practices and the games. He was immersed in the whole baseball culture.”

In 2007, Alex retired from the team to take on an active coaching role, including for his son, Austin.

“In 2015 I knew Austin would play for (the Knights), and I knew I would be coming to the games anyway, and I’d rather watch in the dugout than in the stands,” he said. “Lo and behold, I was still able to throw, so I was back on the team.”

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Strong bond with the team

Alex has a strong bond with the team. He remembers fondly “playing ball on Tremain Crescent” growing up and being surrounded by all of the coaches, parents and players who have been involved with the Knights over the years.

Alex Sabean winds up a pitch. He’s had a long, storied career with the Windsor Knights. - Photo by Liza Goodwin
Alex Sabean winds up a pitch. He’s had a long, storied career with the Windsor Knights. - Photo by Liza Goodwin

“There’s definitely an emotional attachment to the team,” he said.

“You might go play for another team sometimes, but it’s just not the same,” he continued.

“And a lot of the guys that are on the team now, I have to correct myself before I call them ‘kids,’ because they’re men now, but I’ve coached many of them,” he said. “My son included.”

But is it awkward being on the same team as his son?

“Our relationship has sort of transformed a bit, to more of a peer-to-peer situation,” he said. “When we’re in the dugout, I’m not his father, we’re two ball players.”

“I think our relationship, this component of it, has definitely brought us closer together.”

Like father, like son

Alex jokes that he can leave the room while Austin responds to what it’s like having his dad on the team, but Austin doesn’t mind weighing in.

“I started with the program when I was three and I’ve been playing ever since,” Austin said. “I left for a few years to play different ball, but this is now my third year with the intermediate team.”

“It is weird in some ways (playing on the same team as your dad), but it’s cool,” Austin said.

Austin Sabean, of the Windsor Knights, on the pitcher’s mound at the Tremain Crescent ball field. - Photo by Liza Goodwin
Austin Sabean, of the Windsor Knights, on the pitcher’s mound at the Tremain Crescent ball field. - Photo by Liza Goodwin

“With him coaching me growing up and now being able to play on the same team with him in competitive ball, it’s good,” Austin continued.

“Just growing up, I’ve always been practicing around those guys and I knew that was the team I wanted to play for.”

Although Austin will still take advice from his dad, the two are very much teammates.

“He still coaches me sometimes, but when he’s on the mound, it’s player-to-player,” he said.

Sometimes it’s actually Austin who’s imparting the knowledge, especially when it comes to players on the opposite team that he’s played against.

But how do their fellow teammates feel about it?

Alex said there was no animosity or tension from their relationship.

“The players know him as a player and they know what I bring to the table,” he said. “Us being a father and son, it’s there, but we’re not on the team because of that; it’s because we’re playing baseball.”

Championship win

The Windsor Knights had an exceptional year, winning the league championship for the first time after a 14-inning final.

However, they lost 0-3 during the provincials.

“We lost the first game and we just couldn’t come back from that,” Alex said. “People who don’t play the game don’t realize just how important the emotional and mental component of the game is.”

Still, winning the league championship for the first time as a team was a huge moment for both Alex and Austin, even though Austin was recovering from an elbow injury at the time.

The Windsor Knights, for the first time, win the NSIBL Championships. - Photo by Liza Goodwin
The Windsor Knights, for the first time, win the NSIBL Championships. - Photo by Liza Goodwin

“It was a great feeling; winning it at your own field is awesome,” Austin said. “I dislocated my elbow, so I was on the bench, which was very tough. You want to be out there with your team, help them win… But still, it was awesome.”

For Alex, seeing the team that he’s been a part of for so many years was a cathartic experience.

“We’ve always kind of been in the shadow of some of the great teams of Hantsport, of Pictou County, of Noel Road,” he said. “Then this happens, where we lose the first game and then the second game is just an absolute battle. Everybody is playing their hardest, 14 innings.”

Even Austin, with his dislocated elbow came into the game, just to bunt.

But in the end, they took the win.

“We finally did it, we finally won,” Alex said.

Alex doesn’t want to jinx anything by saying this is the Knight’s time to shine in the league, but he is proud of what they’ve accomplished as a team thus far.

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