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updated: 4/24/2014 8:58 PM

Prather clan proud to play for Antioch's Petty

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  • Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.

       Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for  coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.

       Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for  coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.

       Craig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comCraig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for  coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.

      Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comCraig Prather, left, with his son, Collin, who currently plays baseball at Antioch for coach Paul Petty. Craig also played baseball at Antioch, with Petty as his coach.

  • Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comA team picture of Craig Prather (4) and coach Paul Petty, far left, on the baseball team at Antioch. Prather's son Collin currently plays baseball for Petty at Antioch.

      Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comA team picture of Craig Prather (4) and coach Paul Petty, far left, on the baseball team at Antioch. Prather's son Collin currently plays baseball for Petty at Antioch.

 
 

It's been said that as we age, we become more like our parents.

Craig Prather is reminded of that every time he goes to an Antioch baseball game to watch his son Collin play.

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"I find myself standing in the same place my parents used to stand when they came to watch me play," Prather said with a laugh.

Craig Prather was a star third baseman and heavy hitter for the Sequoits in the mid-1980s. He went on to play baseball at Iowa State and eventually settled back in his hometown after accepting a job at Baxter.

Prather, whose wife Debbie also graduated from Antioch, has had two sons follow in his footsteps and play baseball for the Sequoits. Brett, an outfielder, graduated in 2011 and now plays football at Butler University.

Collin is a junior for the Sequoits and has been a starter for the last two years. He sometimes plays in the infield, but mostly mans center field.

What's even more unique than the Prather family's long-running connection to baseball at Antioch is its long-running connection to one coach in particular.

Antioch head coach Paul Petty has coached both Prather boys, and he coached their father Craig.

"I've been around for a while," laughed the 55-year-old Petty, who is set to retire from his teaching job after next school year. "But I don't think I've ever had a situation like this."

Petty, now is his 22nd year as head coach, was in his first year as a varsity assistant coach at Antioch 30 years ago during Craig's senior year in 1984.

"I remember those kids well," Petty said of the 1984 baseball team. "They won conference that year. That was a really talented team and I remember Craig's swing. It was a great swing. He hit from the left side and with a lot of power. We used to have these woods in right field and he'd hit the ball into the woods all the time.

"I see a lot of that swing in Collin, in terms of the power."

Collin Prather gets a kick out of Petty's unique perspective. It makes him appreciate Petty as a coach even more than he already does.

"He knows so much about baseball … every situation, every hiccup in the game, he's got that knowledge of the game because he's been around it so long," Collin said of Petty. "I think it's pretty cool that a coach can be there so long that I can play for the same coach my dad played for."

Interestingly, Petty's connection to the Prather family goes back even further than Craig. Petty is an Antioch graduate himself and he was a classmate and friend of Craig's older sister, Nancy, in the mid-1970s.

"I think I was about 10 when (Petty) was a senior at Antioch," Craig Prather said. "I have such a long history with Paul. I like knowing that my sons are being coached by a guy I have so much respect for.

"I like how much Paul knows about the game. He's the kind of coach who is always going to clinics to learn more and stay current. He's also a really good guy. He was always really encouraging, and he was always one to ease the situation and loosen you up with a good joke."

Collin Prather says that hasn't changed. Petty is still getting his players to smile with his unique sense of humor.

"He's known for his dry humor," Collin said of Petty. "From what my dad tells me, (Petty) has the same personality now that he had back then."

From the same field to the same coach with the same personality and sense of humor, baseball games at Antioch are like a time warp for Craig Prather.

"It's weird being on the other side of the fence now, but it also feels right at home for me," said Craig Prather, who will be attending his 30th reunion festivities at Antioch in the fall. "Being at those games and seeing Paul and watching my sons play brings back so many fond memories for me … of a lot of things. There's such a rich history there with my family and this community."

Ditto for Petty's family.

This year, Petty is coaching the son of a player he used to coach at Antioch. Next year, he'll be coaching his own son John, currently an eighth grader, in the same program he once played in himself.

"You'd think all of this would make me feel old … coaching the kids of a former player, or coaching your own kid, but it really doesn't," Petty said. "The slang may be different now. The favorite songs that we play in between innings are different now. But I still feel the same as I did 30 years ago.

"Baseball is a great game and all the kids who come through keep you young."

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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