If Stephen Huesten succeeds as a professional pitcher, he deserves much of the credit.
Friends and coaches have admittedly influenced Huesten, tonight’s starting pitcher in the Spokane Indians Northwest League home opener.
When it came to athletic backing from home, however, Huesten was on his own.
Huesten’s parents divorced when he was 3 years old, and his father moved from California to Philadelphia. Stephen remained alone with his mother in the Golden State, relocating from San Francisco to Pacifica four years later.
Their life together has included some financial and health difficulties. Mrs. Huesten suffers from emphysema, meaning Stephen assisted his mother when home from baseball, soccer or other interests.
“I take care of her when I’m there,” Huesten said. “It has motivated me to try harder (in athletics).”
The dedication to improving himself drew notice when Huesten arrived in the Indians minicamp last Friday. When pitching coach Buster Keeton formulated a five-man rotation to begin the year, Huesten drew the coveted home opener.
“(Keeton) came up to me … and said I showed him I could handle it,” Huesten said.
The Kansas City Royals selected Huesten in the 10th round of this year’s amateur draft. Huesten, a fifth-year senior from Long Beach State, had signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago White Sox, but the agreement was invalidated when it was ruled that the righthander had achieved fewer college credits than thought.
Ending up with the Royals rather than the White Sox may have an unexpected benefit. Huesten has an older sister who was given up for adoption. The two have never met. The woman, who was tracked down by Huesten’s uncle, lives in North Carolina, close to the Royals’ Class A Carolina League team in Wilmington (Del.)
That’s a long way from Pacifica and Terra Nova High School, yet many of Huesten’s relatives live back east.
As far as his high school days, Huesten remains surprised that any scouts ever found him there.
“Nobody knows where it is,” Huesten said. “We used to have cows just beyond the outfield.” Huesten was also offered a soccer scholarship to Sonoma State, but opted for baseball.
The 6-foot, 195-pounder throws a fastball of more than 90 mph and also has an effective slider. He’s improving his curveball under Keeton’s guidance.