Langley brothers relish chance to play together
There was no hesitation in Jon Mihic’s answer.
A few years ago, Jon’s collegiate team was facing his younger brother Zach’s Langley Blaze squad during a tournament in Arizona.
The question posed to Jon was what would he have done had he been rounding third base and waved home only to find his brother, a catcher, blocking the plate?
“I would take him out for sure,” the elder Mihic answered.
“I wouldn’t go out to hurt him or anything, but we both play the game really hard.
“I wouldn’t hit him extra hard just because he is my brother.
“If I was catching, he would do the same thing; nothing personal or anything.
“I know we play the game hard and I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Thankfully, it never came down to that.
This summer has been special for the brothers as Jon, 22, and 19-year-old Zach have played on the same team for the first time.
And they made the most of the opportunity, helping the Langley Senior Blaze capture the B.C. senior men’s provincial baseball championship in Prince George earlier this month.
The Blaze roster is made up of local players looking for somewhere to play during their summers home from college.
Jon just graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University with a degree in business administration.
Zach departed on Friday (Aug. 17) for Mayville State University in North Dakota.
“It has been a blast, being home and getting to play with my brother,” Zach said.
“It is pretty cool. And to win provincials, it was really fun to be a part of.”
Growing up, the brothers always had a decent relationship.
“When we were out at school and stuff and I needed something from him, he would help me out,” Zach said.
“But at home, if we were getting on each others’ nerves, he wouldn’t be afraid to give me a little shove or something like that.”
“Sometimes we would fight, sometimes we would have a good time,” offered Jon.
“As we got older, (the fighting) just stopped.”
Zach said growing up, if they were bored or had nothing to do, they would go to the batting cages and spend a couple of hours honing their swings.
Both brothers played in the B.C. Premier Baseball League, Jon with the Abbotsford Cardinals and Zach with the Langley Blaze.
And after graduating from Brookswood Secondary, both turned their time in the PBL into scholarships south of the border, although they were hundreds of miles apart.
“When we were at school, we didn’t talk all the time, but we didn’t miss a beat,” Jon said.
“We have a quiet understanding of who we are and what we need to do.”
Jon had spent the past couple of summers playing in the Western Major Baseball League.
But the allure of playing with his younger brother helped convince him to come to Langley for the summer.
“I had some doubts playing back at home, but that was one of my factors when I was considering coming back,” he said.
Now that he has seen his brother play up close and in person for a full summer, he is impressed.
“It has been amazing to see how far he has come defensively as a catcher,” Jon said.
“His release, he just gets rid of the ball so quick.
“I never really saw that before so it is kind of neat.
“And he is pretty smart back there.”
While Zach is a catcher and known more for his abilities behind the plate, Jon — and outfielder — is more about what he brings at the plate offensively.
“We both bring something different to the table, but we have the same attitude towards playing, that grinder mentality,” Jon said.
“He is more offensively minded, for me, I am more all-around,” Zach said.
Jon led Kansas Wesleyan this past season with 57 hits and 48 RBIs. He was also tops in extra-base hits with 22 (15 doubles, two triples and five home runs).
And at this stage in their careers, the brothers try and help each other out in their areas of strength.
“He has helped me with my swing and I try and help him with the field,” Zach said.
“We work back and forth, trying to get each other better.”
“It has been a blast, being home and getting to play my brother,” Zach added.
“It has been pretty cool.”
“Just playing on the same team, it has been neat to see how we have developed as players,” Jon added.
And while his younger brother has departed for school, the elder of the Mihic brothers is with the Senior Blaze for a few more weeks as they prep for the Grand Forks International Tournament, an elite tournament which Langley won in 2011.
After that, Jon will continue training towards his goal of landing a tryout for an Independent League team next season.
Zach, who hit .282 and started 22 of the team’s 37 games as a freshman, is entering his sophomore season with Mayville State.
And while it can be tough in small town North Dakota with cold winters — he described a couple of -40 degree nights — overall he has no complaints.
“Waking up every day and going out to play baseball pretty much every day,” he said.
“It really is a dream come true.”