From the backyard to the college diamond

Randy and Gene Aberouette bring a family element to Sykline’s baseball program

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Abeorouette Family

Randy and Gene Aberouette are enjoying their first season playing together for the Skyline Trojans baseball team

By Steven Rissotto, Skyline College

Randy Aberouette strapped on his spikes, doffed on his cap, packed his equipment, and set out to the field for his first practice as a member of the Skyline baseball team. Something wasn’t right when most of the other players rolled up wearing black t-shirts with their baseball pants — a dress code unbeknownst to Aberouette, who stood out in his bright white shirt.

As a freshman, Aberouette knew there would be some learning curves involved in learning a new group of personalities, all of whom had an aspect of history with each other. But a mistake on the first day? This is a learning experience, he thought. The practice ended, and a familiar face on the team approached him, tossing a black Skyline Trojans baseball shirt his way.

“We wear black on this team,” this teammate of his said.

It was Randy’s older brother Gene, who was beginning his second season with the club, and was in no mood to watch his brother make a common-sense mistake of wearing the frowned-upon white shirt ever again.

Even though the coronavirus pandemic that has caused many Trojan players to opt out for the entire season, the two Aberouette brothers have embarked on a unique opportunity to be teammates at the collegiate level.

Raised in San Bruno, Randy and Gene are two of eight siblings in a family with a rich background in athletics. Their older brothers, Felix and Jean-Paul, have had experience on the diamond at four-year universities, Felix being a catcher for South Alabama and Jean-Paul a pitcher for Spring Hill. The youngest son, David, is playing for the varsity baseball team at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco. Naturally, all the brothers started playing before they could even remember, and it’s been a staple in their lives ever since.

“There’s five of us playing baseball right now, and we all just play catch, hit, and work out together,” Randy said. “I mean, our whole lives revolve around baseball. I think that’s a big part of why we gravitate toward the sport.”

In high school, Randy and Gene made their marks on the baseball diamond, wrestling mat, and cross country track. But when the time came to narrow the workload down to one sport, it wasn’t a difficult choice.

Gene’s first taste of Skyline baseball was in 2020, in the spring, before COVID-19 shut down their season in mid-March. In nine appearances on the mound, he threw 12 innings, while giving up just two runs and striking out 12. On the mound, he has the distinctive ability to pitch effectively with both arms, although he has recently shifted to primarily throwing left-handed while the right side continues to improve in bullpen sessions.

Known as “Gene’s little brother” on the team, Randy is a catcher known for his athleticism and mobility behind the plate. A big part of their routine features Gene regularly throwing bullpens while Randy catches, a tradition they’ve brought to Skyline.

“There are three catchers in my family, and pitching to any of my brothers is always a calm vibe, because they got my back,” Gene said.

“It’s pretty cool getting to watch Randy catch for Gene, just knowing that they grew up together and they’ve done it before,” said Stephen Blecha, an outfielder for the Trojans who happened to be high school teammates with both of them. “He’s kind of got that knowledge of what he throws and when he’ll throw it.”

And there’s a fun element to that familiar history.

It’s safe to say that the competitive nature of growing up in a household of eight siblings could have a strong influence on the brothers, and there’s always some fun mixed in. One of those moments comes when Randy steps up to the plate against Gene on the mound during live at-bats in practice. The cat and mouse games played between the two is on display for all to witness.

“We’ve had a couple live at-bats, and it’s fun — He’s my brother, but at the end of the day, it’s bragging rights,” Randy said. “I’m getting to that box, facing him, and I’m trying to hit it hard, and he’s trying to strike me out.”

The most recent matchup between the two was prematurely ended when one of the runners unsuccessfully tried to steal second base in order to retire the inning. Gene was in the driver’s seat with a 1-2 count, but we’ll have to settle for the ultimate cliffhanger until the next showdown occurs.

The two are professionals when it comes to making an entrance, often pulling to the field in Gene’s Corvette. When practice is over, they take inventory by breaking down the aspects of practice they just participated in. For them, it’s more art than a job.

“It’s just their whole demeanor,” Blecha said. “Randy is always smiling — It doesn’t matter what is going on. If you look at Gene, he’s significantly more serious than his younger brother.”

Although he’s now a seasoned veteran in a leadership position, Gene knows how to have his fair share of fun. One such instance was a small prank he took part in carrying out, when he helped install a parking boot on an infielder’s tire. The old-fashioned gaffe generated some laughs, leaving little room to doubt Gene’s pure authenticity.

The bond between the two runs deeper than the fact that they live together, train together, and carpool to the field together in the Corvette. Of course, Gene has played with Skyline for longer, but that minor detail won’t stop him from helping his younger brother succeed.

“I’m trying to still teach him to do his job or call pitches,” Gene said. “He’s doing good — he can do it all — but in case there are some mistakes, I’ll help him out a little bit.”

The two pride themselves on having each other’s backs no matter the circumstances, especially during a challenging season when Skyline is left with roughly ten position players and five pitchers while playing double-headers against teams that sometimes field more than 30 players.

“This is my first year on the team, and Gene is a returner, so he’s already like one of the big guys on the team,” Randy said. “Coming up to the practices at first, I kind of looked up to him. Everyone loves Gene, everyone knows Gene.”

“I’ve been treated pretty well coming in,” Randy said. “I think a big part of that is Gene looking after me.”

This story was originally published on The Skyline View on April 27, 2021.