The chances of becoming a professional baseball player on a major league team are slim to none. Twenty-four-year-old twins Austin and Brandon Lambright decided long ago they would risk those odds.
“We knew early on we wanted to dedicate our lives to baseball,” Austin said.
The Friday Harbor High School graduates sacrificed weekends and summers traveling off island to practice and hone their skills. The island community did not have the resources for kids with pro-ball ambitions, yet the Lambrights made it work.
“People thought we were crazy,” Brandon laughed, although friends have always been highly supportive. During college, professors often raised eyebrows upon seeing their career of choice, and along with other adults, encouraged them to pursue a “real job.”
“It just isn’t logical to some people, to have such a crazy goal,” Austin said.
The Lambrights’ efforts have begun to pay off. Austin and Brandon left on Jan. 6 for spring training in Arizona. Brandon is pitching his second year for the Colorado Grand Junction Rockies. Austin was drafted this year to pitch for the Kansas Burlington Royals.
The Rockies are a National League team while the Royals are an American League. This means the brothers will not play against each other.
“I’m actually really looking forward to the day I can look out across the bullpen and see him on the opposing team,” Brandon said.
The siblings have always had a friendly competitive relationship, and know each other’s pitching tricks. Austin added that since the two look alike, seeing people’s confused reactions as one steps up to the mound, then the other for the opposite team, will be priceless. As far as the Lambrights are aware, they are one of few, if not the only, twins playing professional baseball currently. Hand dominance is the key to telling the twins apart. While Brandon is right-handed, Austin is left-handed. Lefties tend to pitch more selectively, so Austin’s fastball clocks in at 96 mph, while Brandon’s is slightly faster at 98. Player statistics, Brandon noted, however, are just guidelines that give an athlete a sense of their performance, and where they can improve.
While reviewing paperwork with his new team, Brandon realized the coaches were citing Austin’s stats, he explained.
“For a second they thought maybe they drafted the wrong guy,” he said.
Being drafted was a nail-biting experience for the both of them. A friend congratulated Brandon, inadvertently spilling the news he had been drafted. Austin spent six hours within the Friday Harbor town limits to ensure he had cell phone reception to receive the call and was thrilled when he finally saw his name pop up on the draft roster on his computer.
When they were young, the Lambrights imagined playing for the Mariners. Besides loving the Seattle team, being close to home so friends and family could come to watch them play appealed to them. As adults, they realized the likelihood being on the same organization was slim, as was being able to choose a franchise.
“Having a dream team is really what you do when you’re young. As you grow, reality hits,” Brandon said.
His message to young people is never giving up on their dreams.
“No matter how big your dream is, go as far as you can to make it happen,” he said. “It does take a lot of work – the bigger the dream, the harder the challenges – but in the end, it is worth the trouble.”
“It isn’t just about baseball, it’s about life,” Austin said. There will always be ups and downs in achieving goals.
“In the end, I want to look back and say I did everything possible to get where I wanted to be,” he said.