For Jim, Jack Farnen, Little League was a family affair
TRUMBULL - When the ball bounced off the top of the fence and over for a home run, Westport manager Jim Farnen did his best to keep his emotions in check but a fist pump betrayed his excitement.
His son Jack, was rounding the bases, his solo blast giving his team - at the time -- a two-run cushion and dad greeted him as he rounded third base with a coach-player high five.
After the game, however -- a 3-2 Westport win over Monroe that advanced Westport into the double elimination portion of the District 2 Little League tournament -- the Farnen celebration was a lot more personal.
This is Jim Farnen’s last go-round with Jack, the youngest of three Farnen sons. Jim started coaching Jack when Jack was just nine years old, playing in the Easton Little League. Three years ago, the family moved to Westport, playing with the 10 U, the 11U and now the 12U.
It was a great run. Westport reached the double elimination portion of the District 2 tournament before being eliminated, ending what had been a memorable summer baseball relationship between father and son, manager and player.
“He’s the last of four children, my (three) older sons, I coached them as well but this is a treat,” Farnen said. “This is the last time around with Jack so, we’re having some fun with it because it goes by so quick.”
Westport lost its first game, a 4-3 heartbreaker to Trumbull National and then was eliminated by Fairfield National on Tuesday, falling 5-3 in seven innings, ending its season — but not without Jack hitting a game-tying home run in the fifth before Fairfield rallied back to win.
In last Saturday’s win over Monroe, Farnen said that he looked out to centerfield before the game and saw an old friend that had coached one of Jim’s older sons, Jim Jr., almost a decade ago.
“He was my assistant coach and it was great to see him come out and support Jack,” Farnen said. “That brought back a lot of good memories from a decade ago.”
Jim Jr., the oldest is currently playing rugby as a sophomore at Providence. Another son, Michael, a junior at Staples High School, competes in crew. A daughter, Katelyn, recently graduated from Penn State. With the Little League season now over, Jack will go on and play for a club team, Team Wolfpack. His father won’t be coaching anymore.
“I honestly enjoyed it,” Jack said about playing for his father. “There’s always that tough part where it seems like he’s being harder on you than the other guys but I love it.”
“I probably am harder on him that I should be but he knows the deal,” Jim Farnen said. “He’s watched his older brothers and knows when the team hits the field its ‘goodbye dad’ and its coach Farnen.”
What also helps the relationship is the ‘what-happens-on-the-field, stays-on-the-field’ mantra.
“We live by the rule that we don’t bring it into the house,” Jack Farnen said. “We’ll talk about it in the car but that’s it, we don’t talk about anything negative. When we get home, it’s forgotten.”
That home run against Monroe was the first of the tournament for Farnen, an electric moment of there ever was one for the family.
“It was awesome. It was a great feeling. I knew it was gone,” Jack said.
“I was happy for (Jack),” added Jim. “Believe it or not, when I’m coaching him, he’s not my son, I’m just his coach but I was happy for him.”
And after the game?
“He gave me a big hug,” Jack said. “That was great.”
“Jack gave me a big smile after the game,” he said. “That smile said it all.”