The little brother always follows the big brother. Every move, every step, and every motion can and will be mimicked. For West Virginia Power pitcher Mike Wallace, his little brother Gavin fit the stereotype all the way to professional baseball.
Mike was born in May of 1994 and grew up in New Jersey about an hour outside of Yankee Stadium. His parents, Diane and Mike Sr., waited just a year and half to have his younger brother Gavin in November of 1995. The two quickly became nearly inseparable.
"We were always doing something. Whether it was pickup basketball, whiffle ball in the backyard, football, those games got competitive for sure," Mike explained.
"It was more like everything he did, I did. I kind of just always followed in his footsteps," said Gavin. The two shared a room growing up, but it wasn't always buddy-buddy. They were young competitive boys, after all. Sometimes, competition got so fierce between the two that they couldn't even sleep in the same room together.
Mike and Gavin of course played baseball with each other. Gavin followed Mike in Little League, travel ball, high school ball, and even into college. At Madison High School, the two found their love for pitching. It started with Mike.
"Gavin definitely lasted a little bit longer than I did as a position player... I was converted to pitcher only probably the second half of my junior year [at Madison]," Mike recounted. As a senior, he was on the hill with his little brother roaming the infield, who was a sophomore at the time. The Madison baseball team went on to win 2012 State Sectional Championship that year.
But then Mike left. As he found his footing toeing the slab, he committed to Fairfield University, an NCAA Division One school located in Connecticut. But, as Gavin had done for all those years prior, he wasn't too far behind Mike.
"After my freshman year, the Fairfield coaches had heard about Gavin, and [he] had gone to one of their camps prior, and they were set on recruiting [him]."
"When he committed to Fairfield as a pitcher, that made me just want to be a pitcher," explained Gavin, "I just thought if he could do it, I could probably do it too." Gavin finished up his high school career as a two-way player, but had begun to focus on pitching. With his big brother already at the Division One level, Gavin still had the role model he had looked up to his whole life.
"His work ethic really showed me that anything is possible," Gavin confided.
Sometimes for brothers, getting along, no matter the age, can be quite difficult. But between Mike and Gavin, things were never that way. Mike wanted Gavin to come to Fairfield and play alongside him. The two played together in the NCAA for only one year. That's when Mike got the call. He left, again.
In June of 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Mike in the 30th round as a junior. He began his career in the professional ranks in the Gulf Coast League that year, and now finds himself with the West Virginia Power in 2017.
History can often be used to tell the future. Just as he had done his entire life, Gavin followed Mike. The Pirates selected Gavin in the 15th round in 2017. Guess who he called right away: Mike.
"We were in Charleston (South Carolina) at the time and my phone blew up with a bunch of text messages," Mike recounted. "I talked to him within probably three minutes of him being drafted."
"I always wanted to get drafted by the Pirates so for it to really happen is pretty surreal," Gavin expressed. The two have the potential to be in a Jose Molina/Bengie Molina situation: one day playing Major League Baseball together as brothers on the biggest stage.
Gavin began his career in Morgantown with the West Virginia Black Bears. While the two have yet to play alongside each other in the professional ranks, that could never stop big brother Mike from giving his younger brother some sage advice.
"My advice to him would just be trust yourself. Trust your convictions that got you here. You're going to have a lot of influences throughout your professional career. But at the end of the day, every decision that you make is going to be made by you. Trust what got you here."
Hopefully little brother can listen.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.