Upton brothers spark Little League memories

My brother Bobby and I were born 21 months apart. We played little league baseball together for Moose Lodge in Hattiesburg.

A couple times, I think, we got hits in the same game. That was cool. Later we worked together at the same newspaper for years and years. That was a blessing.

And that is why I can’t even imagine what the Upton brothers are experiencing in Atlanta currently. B.J. Upton is the oldest, born in August of 1984. Justin came along three years and four days later. So I doubt they were allowed to play much little league baseball together.

Togther now with the Atlanta Braves, they are making up for lost time. In the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs last night, B.J. Upton tied the game with a leadoff home run and then little brother Justin won it 6-5 with a walk-off home run to center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Uptons are the first brothers in major-league history to hit game-tying and walk-off home runs in the same inning.

An alert camera man and director showed B.J.’s face light up in the dugout as Justin rounded the bases. It was a “WOW” moment. The Braves had trailed 5-1 going into the eighth inning

“We never dreamed of being on the same team, mch less coming out here and doing that tonight,” B.J. Upton told reporters afterward. “It’s exciting.”

Justin Upton, the youngest, now has five home runs in five games. B.J. Upton went without a hit with nine strikeouts in his first 16 at-bats with nine strikeouts before reaching base on an infield single in the seventh and then blasting the home run.

That’s some way to break out of a slump. My educated guess is that it will help both the brothers, having the other around, to get through slumps.

The two brothers make up two-thirds of potentially one of the most powerful and fastest outfields in the Major Leagues. They are joined by Jason Heyward. All can run, all can throw and all can hit for power. I watched all three take batting practice here at Trustmark Park recently. The ball just seems like a rocket shot coming off their bats. It just sounds different.

As brother Bobby pointed out to me, you watch those two Upton home runs in the ninth inning last night and it reminds you of John Cusack’s line in the movie Eight Men Out:

“When the bat meets that ball you can feel that ball just give and you know it is going to go a long way. Damn, if you don’t feel like your going to live forever.”

The Braves will be a most interesting story to follow this season. You’ve got the Uptons. You’ve got Evan Gattis, the guy out of nowhere. You’ve got any number of players we’ve seen first at Trustmark Park, including Gattis. You don’t have Chipper Jones. And that’s the concern. Who’s going to be the leader? Who’s going to be the captain in the clubhouse? We shall see.

But back to brothers playing baseball together:

I was 12, Bobby was 10. One of us couldn’t find our glove — imagine that — and we were late leaving for the game. Mama finally found it and herded us out to the car. Bobby got in first and I slammed the door behind him, except for his thumb which paid the consequences.

This was in Hattiesburg. You could have heard him in Laurel.

His thumb quickly grew about two sizes. Mom ran back into the house and got some tape and gauze, which, for good reason she always had handy. I bandaged Bobby’s thumb on the way to the game while he glared at me.

So we get to the game and the coach is reluctant to let Bobby play, but, seeing as how we only had nine players show up, he puts Bobby in the lineup.

Long story short: Bobby gets two hits, including the game-winner, batting with his huge, bandaged, deformed-looking thumb off the bat.

As the older brother, I took credit, of course.

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