Tim Nichting found himself back in the World Series this year. It was the third trip for the former Xavier catcher. Not a bad accomplishment. Most people are thrilled to make it once.
OK, OK, so he wasn’t exactly in the Fall Classic. And he wasn’t playing with the Red Sox or the Rockies. He was in the Little League version of the World Series coaching a group of 12-year-olds.
But this might have been better. As big as the Little League World Series has become—nationally televised games, free equipment, sold-out stadiums—it was a big deal. Plus, the 47-year-old Nichting had one of the greatest thrills a father could have: He coached his son, T.J., in the Series.
Baseball, as it turns out, is a family activity in the Nichting household. After playing at Xavier, Nichting was drafted to play in the minor leagues for the Montreal Expos in 1982. Released in 1983, his father, Ray, asked him to be an assistant coach on the team he was leading. Nichting saw the chance to help the younger set. “And the next thing you know, I’m there for 24 years,” he says with a laugh.
In 1991, they became the first-ever father-son combo to coach in the Little League World Series. They did it again in 1993 and 1995, when they were one win away before being eliminated—with a team that included Tim’s oldest son, Tony. “It was very sad to go home in 1995,” he says, “but then I get this chance 12 years later and we make it.”
Nichting, a computer programmer by day, coached the West-side Hamilton (Ohio) All-Stars to the Series this year by winning 14 games in the regionals before going 1-2 in the double-elimination Series—the same record as in the two earlier appearances. But this time, with the TV coverage and freebies, it was a whole different experience.
“Surreal would be the word,” he says.