From the age of seven, I always played alongside my identical twin brother in every sport I participated in. From soccer to football, basketball to baseball, he and I had were always on the same team, with the same jersey, and the same name across our backs. However, six years after we picked up a baseball for the first time and played catch with each other in the front yard, this all changed.
It was the regular season championship game of our thirteen year old Babe Ruth League season. My brother and I played for Myers Park “Red” and our opponents were Myers Park “Green.” At least we knew Myers Park was guaranteed a championship. It was the last game of the series and all of our older guys were burned out and could not pitch, so that left me the 5’2” thirteen year old who had not started a game since Little League. As usual, my brother got the start at third base, where he split time with one of the team’s best players. As nervous as I was, I was still able to pull off one of the best, if not the best, outings of my career. Through five innings, I had thrown only forty-five pitches! Both my coaches were shocked and impressed by what I had accomplished. Unfortunately, however, the sky fell out on us and the umpires delayed to game until the rain stopped.
For over half an hour we waited for the sky to clear up, but the rain kept pouring. Not too long after that, the umpires called the game because the storm did not appear to be passing anytime soon. My team was devastated, as we were awarded a 2-1 loss with two innings left. We had been on a roll to take back the lead; but my biggest conflict was yet to come. As required by tradition, the head coaches of the two Myers Park teams were to meet and discuss the all-star team that would go on to play in the state tournament. After what felt like hours, my coach walked back to our side of the field and immediately called me over. Alarmed, I nervously approached him. Quietly, he informed me of the most shocking news of my life.
He led off the conversation by congratulating me for making the all-star team. He said, “Your performance tonight is what earned you a spot on this team. We were deciding between choosing you and another pitcher, but anyone who can throw only forty-five pitches through five innings deserves to be an all-star. However, I have some bad news. You made it, but your brother did not. I will give you some time to think your decision over. Have a good night.” This hit me like a freight train. I was stuck trying to settle the internal conflict between hurting my brother’s feelings and not getting to play on the all star team for the first time in my life.
On the ride home, I decided to ride with my Dad and informed him of my dilemma. After a moment, he responded, “Well I’m proud of you for taking your brother’s feelings into consideration, so why don’t we just ask him what he thinks?” We would all sit down and talk about it, and my brother would tell us if he cared whether I played or not. After thinking it over for a minute, he said, “You made the team, so you should play.” With that decision, I gathered my gear for practice the next day.
That night, I felt something change inside both of us. It wasn’t pride that I had made the team; and it wasn’t selflessness that my brother had encouraged me play. It was that this one event had caused my brother and I to realize that our paths in life might not always be exactly the same.