Here’s a different twist to a sibling rivalry.
Brothers Nick and Chris Morabito live in the same house, have the same parents and many of the same interests. But they attend different high schools, where they are starting infielders on different varsity baseball teams.
On March 14 those teams played, with each brother in the starting lineup and batting No. 2 in his respective team’s orders, when the McLean Highlanders hosted the Gonzaga Eagles in a non-league clash.
Nick Morabito, who will play college baseball at Virginia Tech, was the starting senior shortstop for Gonzaga. He went 2 for 4 with a homer, three RBI and two stolen bases to help the Eagles win, 4-3. Chris Morabito was the starting junior second baseman for McLean. He walked and reached base twice, and also threw out his brother at home.
Their paths crossed a couple of times on the field when the runners reached base.
It was the first time the brothers had ever faced off, at any level of organized baseball, in such a situation.
For once, the brothers’ mom, MarLynn, and dad, Brian, were able to attend just the one game to see their sons play. Often the parents split such duties because of the team’s conflicting schedules.
“We definitely try to have a presence at each of their games,” said Brian Morabito, who played college baseball at James Madison University. “I didn’t know who to root for. So I was cheering and rooting for both teams this time.”
Various family members attended, some sporting two-tone T-shirts, half in the purple Gonzaga school colors and the other in the red McLean colors, and wearing purple and red beads.
MarLynn Morabito had purple tattoos on one cheek and red on the other.
“I think my daughter was embarrassed to be seen with me,” MarLynn Morabito said.
The brothers, former teammates with McLean Little League squads, are attending different high schools because of personal choice. Nick was interested in continuing a private Catholic-school education. Chris was more interested in attending the family’s neighborhood school with his friends.
As for the March 14 game, the brothers anticipated the showdown for weeks. Each even helped prepare the field for play, after snow and rain two days earlier soaked the surface and threatened to postpone the contest, or have it moved to a drier field.
“Of all of our games this season, this was the one I looked forward to the most, because I knew the environment would be special,” Nick Morabito said. “There were a lot of family and friends at the game. It was an all-around great experience.”
At home later that night, the two talked a lot about the game in a friendly manner, never threatening to toss the other out of the house.
“To tell you the truth, during the game I was rooting for Chris to do well and get a hit,” Nick Morabito said.
Chris said the same about his brother, but added he wishes Nick’s home run had been a bloop single or more “neutral” of a hit instead.
“Just being on the same field playing against each other was such a cool thing,” Chris Morabito said. “It was a lot of fun and I was grateful for it all.”
Said MarLynn: “All night you could feel the electricity in the air.”
Carrie Blewitt, the brother’s aunt, attended the game wearing one of those two-tone T-shirts.
“The Morabito family had a great time cheering on their sons/brother, nephews and grandsons in this once-in-a-lifetime game,” Blewitt said.
Uncle John Morabito also attended. He played college baseball at Wake Forest University then in the minor leagues. He now trains and mentors young baseball players, including Chris and Nick and influencing their lives. So he also was rooting for each that night in what was a unique sibling rivalry.