Double vision

It can be felt, the tricks they will play on your mind while watching USF baseball.

You’ll turn to another fan and say, “Wasn’t No. 18 just playing third base?”

And you’ll get the response, “No. No. 12 has always been playing third base.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, that’s his brother behind the plate.”

“Get out of town.”

You’ll be seeing double vision as they look at each other over the 90 feet between third base and home plate.

They walk the same, they talk the same. But you will soon find out, they are completely different people.

Meet Jeff and Brian Baisley. Twin brothers and baseball players.

Because it’s not mind tricks. It’s getting through to you, and maybe even getting the best of you.

The pair of 2001 Land o’ Lakes graduates were talented athletes from high school who didn’t come into college that highly recruited. But now, four long years later, they are an integral part of Bulls baseball.

Sometimes they bat one in front of the other in the lineup. Jeff, the third baseman, is leading the team in most offensive categories, including batting average (.375), RBI (42), hits (55), runs (31) and doubles (18), while Brian, the catcher, is not too far behind and is second on the team in doubles (10), RBI (26) and hits (37), and it seems like a strategy well-played by coach Eddie Cardieri.

“I remember seeing them over the summer in American Legion,” Cardieri recalled of when the brothers were still in high school. “And the thing that really stood out was that they were ballplayers. They know how to play and did it.”

And they have been playing for years. Since they were little twins, they have excelled in not only baseball, but basketball as well. In fact, it doesn’t stop with Jeff and Brian.

Their older brother, Brad Baisley — another Land o’ Lakes alumni — was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies as the 44th overall pick in the 1998 MLB Draft, but has had a rough road in the minors, injuring his elbow so badly that it required Tommy John surgery.

“I don’t regret anything that I have done,” Brad said about signing a contract right out of high school. “Though I haven’t talked to (Jeff and Brian) about playing in the minor leagues, it’s something that they just have to learn and how you take care of yourself.”

When they were kids, their father, Calvin Baisley, wasn’t their Little League coach. In fact, he didn’t coach them for years.

“It’s funny; I kind of did it backwards,” said Calvin, a physical education coach at Pine View Middle School in Land o’ Lakes. “Most people coach their kids as Little Leaguers and then let them go. I didn’t coach them in Little League. I got to coach them in high school, which not a lot of people get to do. And then they always knew what was going on out there on the field whenever they played.”

Cardieri agrees with his coaching peer.

“They make up the meat of the lineup,” Cardieri said. “They are run producers, great hitters, great infielders. Brian is a great field general from the catcher position. Because when I saw them in the summer league, I just knew they had to be on my team.”

Don’t let their homegrown smiles fool you. They love each other like good brothers do, but still retain the sibling rivalry that comes with spending the majority of 22 years together.

“Being a twin is not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Jeff, who is one minute younger than Brian. “It can get annoying. I guess it’s alright because you always have someone to hang out with, to talk to. But other than that, yeah, it can be overrated.”

They also agree that by now, people should know who they are.

“My dad still calls me Brian sometimes,” Jeff claims. “It can be frustrating when people you’ve known for five years forget who you are.”

But they are different. Different enough for it to be visible to a scout who has shown up at Red McEwen Field on a Sunday afternoon. They claim that all 6-foot-3 — though Brian is about 10 pounds heavier than Jeff — of them is different, in a way that is beyond superficial.

Brothers are known to share a lot of things, but according to the Baisleys, there are just a few things that you get for yourself.

“We’d switch clothes and stuff. Doubles your wardrobe,” Jeff said. “And we had a room together for I don’t even know how long.”

Brian added, “Not girlfriends though. He’s got bad taste in women.”

But like most brothers — even those who aren’t twins — they find themselves competitive, trying to outdo one another in a game that keeps no stats.

“We’ve been playing together since we were so little, and he’s always ragging on me if I go 0-for-something,” Brian said. “And even though I don’t want to say better, it does make us work harder to be better than each other.”

Jeff added, “We compete at everything. Baseball. Everything. You name it.”

“We were racing to the car one time and he lost,” Brian said. “Then he threw the keys at me and knocked my front teeth out. We were four years old and in Daytona. I didn’t have a front tooth for years.”

While Jeff can’t deny the story — he admitted to it being true — the twins were willing to divulge just what makes them different from one another.

“Jeff’s got more of a temper,” Brian said.

Jeff added, “I’m the quiet one.”

“Yeah, right,” Brian said with a laugh. “He can be a little frustrating.”

Jeff seemed confused by Brian’s allegation, and was curious as to when he could become such an annoyance.

“Like when you’re being an idiot in the airport after games,” Brian said.

Jeff just shrugged his shoulders like he has probably been doing for years.

They are different. People — even fans who don’t know the differences — can tell that goes past the bickering, the ragging, the hard times — which include a lot of laughs — and boils down to one important thing, one that Calvin knows is the most important.

They’re family.

“(Our family) spends a lot of time out (at the baseball field),” said Calvin, who is in his 20th season as Land o’ Lakes High’s baseball coach. “I never forced baseball on them. They just wanted to play. God knows my wife (Susan) probably knows more baseball than a lot of guys I know. Trust me, she’s spent a lot of time at games, too.

“I’m proud of them. I’m proud of all three of them. Not just what they do on a baseball field, but I’m probably prouder for the kind of people they are. All three of them. My wife and I are lucky. They are good athletes. Most of the times they make good decisions. They are good athletes and they do what they are supposed to do. I feel I’m pretty lucky.”