Heineman brothers star in Pac 12

Pacific Palisades brothers Tyler and Scott Heineman have been competitive as long as their parents can remember. But last week at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, that competition reached new, Division I heights.

Playing against each other in a meaningful baseball game for the first time in their lives, Tyler was catcher for UCLA and Scott played third base for the University of Oregon.

It was a rare yet welcome sight for father Steve, a veteran lieutenant for the Santa Monica Police Department, and mother Kathy, who is president of television for Bad Robot Productions. They were joined by a large contingent of family members and friends as No. 7-ranked UCLA lost two of the three games to No. 17 Oregon.

As Steve Heineman pointed out, it was a win-win for the Heineman family.

‘It’s been great for me,’ Heineman said during Friday’s 8-3 win by Oregon. ‘People asked me who I was going to root for, and I said, ‘No one. I can’t lose.”

Tyler, 20, a 5-11, 205-pound junior, has established himself as a force for the Bruins, leading the team with a .400 batting average through 28 games with one home run and 18 RBI. Scott, who is 6-1 and 190, is hitting only .191 as he adapts to Division I pitching, but the freshman is fourth on the Ducks with 16 runs scored while providing stout defense at the hot corner.

Though they live nearly 1,000 miles apart, the brothers are in constant contact and always keeping tabs on one another.

‘He’s my biggest role model,’ Scott said of Tyler. ‘We talk after every game, not only about baseball but we kind of relate baseball to life too and talk about that and how everything is going.’

Added Tyler, who is a psychology major at UCLA, ‘We’re closer than most people know. It was a lot of fun just to be back with him this weekend. It’s kind of surreal, playing against each other at the highest level in college.’

Still, growing up, they had their share of brother rivalry moments.

In 2007, Tyler was a junior at Windward High School and Scott was a freshman. However, Scott was ultimately looking to transfer to a school with a bigger baseball program. Their father recalled watching one of their fall league games from his customary spot in the outfield and witnessing something he had never seen in a baseball game before.

With Windward leading Malibu 4-1 in the seventh inning and Scott pitching for Windward, things started to unravel a bit. A couple of errors and a walk put Malibu in a position to win, and Tyler, who was catching, went out to the mound to talk to his brother.

Instead of a calming conversation about how to approach the next hitter, the brothers almost came to blows and had to be separated by the umpire. With Windward short on players, neither was ejected; Scott was moved to the outfield, and Windward ultimately won the game.

Steve Heineman now laughs when recalling that moment, especially at how both boys pleaded their side of the story as soon as they got home. ‘I’ve never seen teammates, between the lines, about to fight,’ he said with a chuckle.

Following his freshman season, Scott transferred to Crespi High School while Tyler remained at Windward. Oddly enough, Scott’s decision to attend Oregon was spurred by Tyler’s recruiting visit, when dad brought Scott along. Tyler had always hoped to play locally at UCLA, but Scott made an impression on the Oregon coaches and was impressed by the school.

Growing up, both brothers played in the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association, including one season on the same team, before shifting to the Santa Monica Little League.

Baseball was the obvious choice for Scott, who played varsity football during his one year at Windward High, but Tyler was somewhat torn between hockey and baseball when it came time to commit exclusively to one sport at age 14.

He was a star player for the Junior Kings team, leading them to three straight championship games and two titles. Baseball has proven to be a wise choice if not an easy one for Tyler, who has had the opportunity to catch future stars at UCLA such as Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.

As Scott, 19, makes the transition from the high school level to college, Tyler continues to ascend on the radar of many scouts. He is eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in June and is currently undecided on whether he will turn pro when drafted.

Still, even as an older brother and an icon to Scott, he does not hesitate to consult his younger brother for advice.

‘I ask him about certain approaches he has when he swings, certain drills that he does,’ Tyler said. ‘I try and help him out and he helps me out.’ That certainly represents a different dynamic for Tyler and Scott than their youth, as Tyler admitted.

‘I was very hard on him when he was younger,’ he said, ‘because he wasn’t doing as well as he should be and it was making me look bad.’

Last weekend, everything looked pretty good for the Heineman family.

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