Howard steps down as Cartersville baseball coach; Tucker named interim

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Newly-hired Cartersville head baseball coach Bobby Howard tendered his resignation on Wednesday, according to a press release from the Cartersville School System that went out Thursday morning.

“Howard cited misinformation he received on his Georgia retirement and its implications as his reason for resigning,” the press release stated.

Kyle Tucker, a longtime Cartersville assistant coach for both the baseball and football teams, was named the interim head coach.

According to both Howard and Cartersville athletic director Darrell Demastus, Howard was misinformed on the consequences of his returning to Georgia to coach after already retiring in the state.

“He got some misinformation concerning his retirement and stuff like that, because he had already retired from Georgia, so when it came down to it, he was literally going to have to pay to come to work, basically,” Demastus said.

Both Howard and the school explored different options to resolve the situation, but none were forthcoming, leading Howard to tender his resignation Wednesday morning.

“I just wanted to say they made me a great offer, but the retirement investment piece could not be worked out,” Howard said. “We spent over a week straight working it, trying different options. I just want to say thanks to the community and the city and I was super excited, but other than that, we just couldn’t work it out.”

Howard was barely a month removed from being named Cartersville’s head coach, as the school announced his hiring in a press conference June 22.

He replaced former head coach Stuart Chester, who left for Buford after the season.

Howard is a famous figure in Georgia high school baseball, having won 12 state titles in 30 years at Columbus High School.

“We were trying to make this work for him and us both because, when you get a quality coach like Bobby Howard, you try everything in the world to make it work,” Demastus said. “It’s just with the retirement and the way it is, it just did not work out.”

With less than a week to go until school starts, Tucker was quickly offered the interim job, and accepted.

Tucker graduated from Cartersville in 1999 and went on to play football at Clemson before returning to Cartersville as an assistant coach for both football and baseball in 2006.

“If you look at coach Tucker, he’s an alumni here, he’s been here,” Demastus said. “Just with the experience he already had with it and, to be honest with you, if you look at it, Tuck, he just seemed to be able to fit the bill and still be able to carry on with the program.”

Tucker was actually planning to step away from the baseball program next year to concentrate on football, teaching and his family, but couldn’t turn down a chance to help the program.

“I had made a personal and professional decision after the season to kind of just stick with football,” Tucker said. “I love Cartersville baseball, I’ve been with Cartersville baseball 15 seasons — four as a player, 11 as an assistant coach — and I just felt like it might be time to just kind of move away from it, but sometimes our plans don’t always work out. I felt like the program was maybe in a bind a little bit and I decided I’m going to do this.”

Tucker’s only previous experience as the head of the team came in the 2014 state semifinals, when Chester was suspended for two games. Tucker and pitching coach David Cagle took over and led the Canes to a three-game series win over Buford.

Tucker will now take over full-time for a program that’s one of the best in the state. Chester won six state titles in his 20-year career at the head of the program.

Last year’s Cartersville team lost in the first round of the state playoffs for the first time in more than two decades, but will return a roster full of talent, including star seniors and MLB draft prospects Anthony Seigler and Devin Warner.

“Our goal as a staff is to give these players, to try to give these seniors the best senior year we can,” Tucker said. “There’s some different things we may do, but at the same time, good grief, this truck isn’t broken at all. So we’re just going to try to steer it straight, keep it in the lane, and see what we can do. ... It was a great honor to be asked, and I just thought for this one year, we’ll see what happens.”