At this year’s WBSC Men’s World Softball Championship there were 8 sets of brothers from 5 countries. In total brothers represented 6% of this year’s roster spots.
Argentina, Canada and the Philippines all had two sets of brothers. Though there are three with the name Godoy in the Argentine lineup only the two Infielders, Manuel and Gustavo, are related. Their other sibling pair was Teo and Paublo Migliavacca. Paublo is a hurler while Teo plays in the outfield.
Older brother Paublo told us, “He saw me play when he was 5 years old and decided that he wanted to play too.” Paublo speaks highly of Teo’s talents. “He picked it up fast and quickly we knew he would do well.” Paublo comes from a softball family so they knew what they were seeing. Teo has indeed done well. Between his Jr. and Sr. national team appearances, the 21-year old has been representing Argentina for 10 years. He even made the men’s team roster ahead of his older brother.
Ryan and Shane Boland, catcher and shortstop respectively, along with Kyle and Bradley Ezekiel, who both play in the outfield, round out 2/3rds of the family connections for Canada.
We asked the brothers why softball is their sport.
Shane Boland told us, “We grew up with softball. Both our parents played. From the very beginning we had a bond over it.”
“My mother and father, they both played,” Bradley Ezekiel said. “We have an older brother also and he played. He pretty much paved the way for us, teaching us things all the way through.”
With a father /son coaching set as well as two pairs of brothers, Canada’s games are practically a family reunion. The Hills, Bolands and Ezekiels haven’t cornered the family market however. The Danish bench brought along the Terkelson trio. Brothers Frederick and Valdemar play in the outfield together while dad Jens coaches.
Singapore doesn’t have brotherly love along on this trip but they do have the wisdom of their 1st generation. Three of their pitchers are sons of previously national team players including 2 who participated in the 8th Men’s World Fast Pitch Softball Championship 1992.
Playing for the Philippines are infielder Christian, and catcher Earl, DeSocorro. Marlon, who is a pitcher, and his brother Michael, who plays third, are the Pagkaliwagan brothers. The final set of brothers on the Pilipino bench are, pitcher Reagan and infielder Gerone, Riparip. Sitting across the outfield for New Zealand is a trio of Enoka brothers, Thomas, Ben and Campbell.
Softball, and its counterpart baseball, are unique sports. Like village folklore, the skills to play these sports are largely passed from person-to-person.
Basketball, football, hockey, soccer, these games can be learned by reading plays in a book and studying the skillset. Softball is different. It is as much about training your mind as your body. While both football and softball have strategic elements, the potential outcomes on every play are far greater in softball. Learning that kind of detail, engraving it into your muscle’s memory, only happens through repetition and exposure.
We wanted to know what the players thought of the family dynamic’s impact on their sport.
“I just think it´s a passion thing really, from a family perspective,” Ryan Boland says. “It’s the type of sport where it´s a team anyway so it is family-oriented. This whole team is a family really.”
“Maybe there’s an advantage that we just practice together a little more than your friend next door. If you’re camping and you’re practicing, you’ve always got a partner there to play with.” Ryan Boland remarked.
“Some days when I didn´t wanna go out and play, Kyle’d kinda force me and visa verse.” Bradley told us. “There might be an advantage there but, like we said, it’s a family sport.”
Ryan added, “I know Shane probably better than everyone on this team but if Bradley says something, Bradley’s our leader. That’s the way it is.”
“We all wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the youth association back home”, Kyle Ezekiel jumped in. The brothers three, all agreed. “We wouldn’t be here without that. I appreciate a lot of the stuff that they’ve done for us.”
Perhaps that’s why the sport produces so many generations of loyalists. Players grow up in the sport, spending their quality time around legends, learning their ways and absorbing their knowledge. Not only that, they drive each other to be better.
Is there friendly competition between brothers? All four answered in unison, “Always”.
Who’s the better player between you? “Bradley is, hands down. No competition there. He’s the best player in the world.” Ryan jumped in. Kyle nodded and remarked, “I can’t compete with that.” As for the Boland brothers, they pointed to each other.
Paublo told us that he and his brother Teo got to face off in the European Championships a few years ago. “I pitch and Teo is a catcher so he knows how to read me. Teo hit off me to win the game. He knew what was coming.”
As to the experience the brothers shared during the 2019 Men’s World Softball Championship Paublo said, “To have this experience together, and to win a championship with him, it means a lot.”
No sibling rivalry here, just pride of an older brother sitting in awe of his little brother’s given talent.`