On the eve of their first-ever matchup in competition on Saturday night at Angel Stadium, Jeff and Jered Weaver were in high spirits on Friday afternoon as they addressed the SoCal media.
Growing up in Simi Valley, a 75-minute freeway ride away to the north, the Weavers were six years apart. Jered, the kid, naturally shadowed his big brother at every opportunity.
Now it’s Jeff, a spot starter with the Dodgers, looking up to Jered, the Angels’ best pitcher this season — and a certain American League All-Star for the first time if he stays the course that has him leading or near the lead in most of the important AL pitching categories, such as wins, winning percentage, ERA, strikeouts, innings and batting average against.
“We’ve grown a lot closer over the last eight to 10 years,” Jered said. “I was 16 years old, just got my driver’s license, and this guy’s going to the big leagues. I always wanted to follow his footsteps.”
On occasion, Jered apparently got a little too close to Jeff’s sneakers.
“I was the big bully brother,” Jeff said, grinning. “Sometimes it seems like he was tagging along too much. I had a driver’s license, and he was 10 years old.”
It’s easy to see that in this part of the country, events are measured by the driver’s license, a passport to a whole new world of possibilities.
There will be 30 to 35 family members and close friends attending this first meeting of the Weavers. Their father, Dave, a terrific basketball player at Granada Hills High School before military service called, will be hard to keep in his seat, according to Jered.
Talk about memorable Father’s Day weekends . . .
“Dad’s probably going to [be given] arm’s distance,” Jered said. “Usually he sits down when we’re not pitching. He’s probably going to be walking around the whole time.”
Jeff had already established himself as a quality Major League pitcher when he began to sense that his kid brother might turn out to be something special. Jeff got that feeling initially watching Jered fly around a basketball court, where he shaped himself in his dad’s image with a smooth shooting stroke and a high-level game.
“I’d get back for Christmas break,” Jeff said, “and they’d be playing the [holiday] basketball tournament. He was something to watch. You could tell he had it.
“When he made the decision to strictly focus on baseball [at Long Beach State], it didn’t take him long at all. When I was back to catch a few games, I could see what he had in baseball his sophomore year. It was a no-brainer.”
Jered brought the biggest laugh of the press conference when someone asked who he felt his parents would be pulling hardest for in this head-to-head battle.
“I think they’ll definitely root for Jeff,” Jered said, beaming. “They always loved him a lot.”
Responded Jeff: “More pressure on me, that’s all.”