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Verlander soaks in All-Star experience

Brother of Tigers ace owns bragging rights in rookie season
August 13, 2013

NORWICH, Conn. -- If Ben Verlander could ever hold something over his big brother, it is the fact that he became an All-Star as a professional before Justin did.

Just 47 games into his career in pro ball, Verlander was selected to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game at age 21.

When his brother was named a Florida State League All-Star in 2005, Justin was 22.

"I'm right along there with him now," said Verlander. "We're both professional All-Stars, that's something that's pretty cool."

Of course big brother, who has appeared in six Major League All-Star Games, was happy to dispense a little bit of advice to ease Verlander's nerves.

"He just said to have fun, that's what it's all about," said Verlander. "It's easy to get caught up and get a little nervous in your first All-Star Game and first Home Run Derby."

Adding to the excitement of the affair is the fact that the Connecticut Tigers outfielder gets to enjoy his premiere All-Star experience in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a very exciting time obviously," said Verlander. "It's my first professional year so to be able to play in the All-Star Game is something I'll always remember, and in my hometown in Connecticut is something that's even cooler."

Ben Verlander
Ben Verlander hopes to face his brother, Justin, in Spring Training next year. (Kevin Hill/

Hailed as the fan favorite when introduced for the Home Run Derby, Verlander was unable to give the local faithful a pregame show to remember, bowing out in the first round with just 90 points.

The Old Dominion product was unfazed by the results, taking it all with a grain of salt.

"That was really exciting," said Verlander. "At a high level, I've never participated in a Home Run Derby. I was just having fun and I hit a lot of line drives. I was hitting for average.

"I won a Home Run Derby and an MVP back in a Little League All-Star Game. That's probably behind this."

Despite Justin blazing and orange and navy path behind the Verlander name over the past decade, the younger Verlander has done more than enough to endear himself to the Tigers community and make his own way with his play this season.

But the friendly sibling rivalry always rears its head, and although it has been many years since the Verlander boys squared off in back yard whiffle ball battles, the two could soon be headed toward a head-to-head showdown where Ben hopes to show he can do more than hit line drives.

"That's something that we've been talking about here," said Verlander with a wry smile. "Our hitting coach [Mike Rabelo] called [Justin] in Detroit, so he's trying to set that up in Spring Training to get me an at-bat. I think I can take him deep now, though."

If he can take Justin deep, it'll be another notch in the "little brother belt" of life.

In brief

Going Green for power: Williamsport's Zach Green, who leads the league in numerous hitting categories including home runs with 10, took down seven other opponents to win the Home Run Derby prior the game.

After hitting three home runs and scoring 290 points in the first round, Green faced off in the finals against Crosscutters teammate Gabriel Lion, who also had three homers while posting 240 points in round one.

The duo did not yield any long balls in the final round as Green won on points, 170 to 100.

"Some of those guys were hitting moon shots," said Green. "I was just trying to stay on top of the ball."

New Hall of Fame class announced: Prior to the start of Tuesday's All-Star Game, the latest class of inductees into the New York-Penn League Hall of Fame were introduced.

Included in the 2013 class are the namesakes of the league's divisions, sportswriter Leo Pinkney and former league presidents Robert Stedler and Vince McNamara.

The other inductees are former Oneonta, N.Y., mayor Sam Nader and former league president Robert Julian.

It is the second class in a three phase implementation of the New York-Penn's Hall of Fame, following the inductions of Wade Boggs, Nellie Fox, Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Warren Spahn and Robin Yount last season.

Craig Forde is a contributor to