Family affair: Bees infielder Andrew Romine, brother Austin have followed in their father's footsteps
Elaine Thompson, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SALT LAKE CITY — The first time Salt Lake Bees infielder Andrew Romine took the field against his younger brother Austin, familiar familial trash talk filled the base paths.
The men were playing in an Arizona fall league when Andrew, a speedy switch hitter, stepped into the batter’s box and, from behind the plate, heard Austin say, “You better steal if you get on.”
Andrew reached base and then narrowly beat out Austin's throw on his attempt to take second. Andrew stood and looked back toward home plate.
“I’m standing on second base looking in and he won’t look at me,” Andrew said. “I get back up the next time and he says, ‘Double or nothing.’”
The older brother again got a hit and again successfully stole second.
“I go home and the whole time I’m all giddy," Andrew recalled. "I’m excited to walk in the door. I open the door and he’s sitting on the couch playing video games. He won’t look at me; he’s just staring at the screen. I stop in the doorway. He pushes pause, and he looks over at me and says, ‘Don’t you say a word.’”
It is that competitive drive, paired with an unwavering support system at home, that has propelled the brothers to continue their family-wide love of baseball. It is a tradition that originated with their dad, Kevin, who played for the Boston Red Sox from 1985-91.
Since facing each other in that fall-league game several years ago, Andrew and Austin have taken their love for the game and turned it into a rare and spectacular accomplishment, each following in their dad's footsteps to the majors. The former is an infielder for the Salt Lake Bees and a member of the Los Angeles Angels' 40-man roster, while the latter is a catcher on the New York Yankees’ active roster.
The early years
Kevin Romine began his path to the majors at the Little League level. He later helped the Sun Devils win a national championship at Arizona State University before landing in the shadows of the Green Monster. He was a Boston outfielder for seven seasons, retiring with a career batting average of .251 and a career fielding average of .980.
The most important part of this journey, however, came when Kevin and his wife June married and started their family. First came Janelle, followed by the boys, and then Rebecca.
"Being married and having a family gave me a strong foundation and a perspective on what really matters in the overall picture," Kevin said. "They grounded me and provided incentive to succeed."
He added that his strongest baseball memories include his family and date back to his time in the minor leagues.
"When I would come out of the locker room after a game and my wife and kids would be there to meet me with a smile on their faces," he said, "it didn't matter whether or not we won or lost or if I had a good or bad day. There they were (with) unconditional love."
In return, his kids were early fans of the game. Janelle remains a "die-hard Red Sox fan" and Andrew still recalls stories of his dad's days in Boston.
"(We were) running around in Fenway, shagging baseballs while they're hitting BP," he said. "I was too young to remember most of it, but I get stories from my dad about climbing into Wade Boggs’ locker and hiding underneath his clothes and jumping out and scaring him. I get stories about hanging out around Roger Clemens and guys who are going to be legends of the game."
Like parents, like kids
From the very beginning, there was no question the Romine boys would play baseball.
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