Siblings are common in baseball. The sport’s history is filled with famous brotherly duos and trios. The DiMaggios, the Niekros, the Alous, the Alomars, the Uptons. . . the list goes on and on. While brothers playing baseball is common, it’s rare for a mother to be 2,300 miles from home and still be able to see her two sons play.
Such was the case for Traci Kelly this weekend, as she was able to see her oldest son Carson play with the Rookie-level Johnson City Cardinals and her youngest son Parker participate in USA Baseball’s National Team Identification Series.
Carson was a second round pick by the Cardinals and signed for $1.6 million. Over his first 206 pro at-bats, he is hitting .223/.263/.388 with 10 doubles and eight home runs.
“It’s been awesome, it’s been a ride, I can tell you that,” Carson Kelly said. “At first, it was a little bit of a tough transition, but now I’m starting to get the hang of it and I’m having a blast. These guys have been great and I’m learning a lot.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is kind of just controlling my emotions. Just learning how to relax during times of stress. I’m just taking it day by day. You’ve got to come back to the ballpark every day, if you did well the day before or if it didn’t go your way. It’s just a daily grind, but it’s been fun.”
This offseason, during his time in the instructional league, Kelly will be hitting the books. Even though he was committed to Oregon, he will be taking four online courses through Oregon State as he begins to work toward an economics degree.
Carson said there are many similarities between him and his brother as players.
“He’s been doing a lot of good things and hopefully he doesn’t surpass me here in the next few years,” Carson Kelly said. “He’s kind of the same person I am. He’s very quiet but he’s a grinder. He’s going to be working every day no matter if he’s tired or if he’s feeling good, he’s going to be out there ready to go.”
The Kelly brothers played together this spring at Westview High in Portland, with Carson mostly at shortstop and Parker—a freshman—at second base. The last time Parker saw Carson play before this weekend was in Westview’s final game of the season, a first-round playoff loss to Sprague High (Salem, Ore.).
Parker said he learned a lot from spending the season playing with his older brother and experiencing the heavy dose of college recruiting and attention from scouts.
“The biggest thing was not trying to do too much,” Parker Kelly said. “That was one of the things. You can’t really press in front of everybody, you just have to do your thing. They’re coming out to see you and you can’t try to be something you’re not. You just have to be yourself and trust your preparation and your mindset, and know that your hard work in the offseason is going to pay off. That’s one of the things he really helped me with. You just have to carry yourself that way.”
After this summer, there’s another team they’ve both been a part of—Team USA. Carson was on the 2010 16-and-under team, as well as the 2011 18U team, and Parker was on USA Baseball’s 15U this summer. The team declined to participate in the IBAF World Championship in Chihuahua, Mexico, but instead played a series of exhibition games in the Dominican Republic.
“To go down there and be able to represent your country, your teammates and your whole family, it’s just amazing,” Parker Kelly said. “The Dominican Republic was cool. We went to a village that’s really poor, where they don’t have much, and we gave away old gloves. Just to see the smiles on their faces was amazing. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me, other than just playing baseball.”
Most recently, Parker was in Cary, N.C., for USA Baseball’s National Team Identification Series for next year’s 17U team. With Johnson City traveling to Burlington, N.C., for a playoff preview series at the end of the season, Parker and Traci were able to see Carson play twice—once in Burlington and once in Danville, Va.
“A couple days before we came out here, his host family from when he played in Tournament of Stars sent my mom a text message and said, ‘Do you guys know when you’re at the NTIS, Carson’s only about a 45-minute drive away,’ ” Parker Kelly said. “Once I heard that, I was like, ‘I’m going!’ I haven’t seen him in two months and I really wanted to see him play.”