About 16 years ago a pair of 5-year-olds pulled up stirrups and slid a jersey over their heads before heading to the baseball field as teammates.
It was the start of an enduring friendship between Kevin Cron and Jordan Kipper that continued to grow as they did. They went to the same schools along the way, were teammates on the diamond nearly every year, leading Mountain Pointe to the 2011 state title and they can probably read each other’s moods faster than Tony Gwynn could recognize a pitch.
They’ve been together so long that it’s surprising their isn’t a smashed up name like Cripper to describe them both.
But that all changed on Saturday in Orem, Utah when Cron dug into the box and Kipper toed the rubber as professional combatants in the Pioneer League.
Kipper, a right-handed pitcher who was selected in the 9th round by the Angels, looked into his catcher with the Orem Owls, and the 6-foot-5 right-handed slugger for Missoula in the batter’s box was Cron, a right-handed first baseman/designated hitter who was taken in the 14th round by the Diamondbacks.
The result was somewhat anti-climatic as Kipper hit Cron on a 2-1 pitch.
"It was pretty cool getting to face him in an actual game rather than intrasquad like we did at TCU," Kipper said.
Kipper laughed a little more about in a response to a Twitter question.
“Just letting him no (know) who is in charge on the field,” Kipper joked on Twitter.
There could very well be a rematch this weekend when Missoula hosts Orem July 19-21.
Cron is off to a great start as he was hitting .316 with six doubles, four home runs and 16 RBIs through 20 games with an OPS of .931
"It's always nice to come out and get off to a hot start," Cron told MiLB.com. "I've definitely felt good at the plate. I obviously hope to carry it on through the rest of the season and keep getting better, because the more you move up, the more developed the pitchers are too, the less opportunities you get to get those fat pitches to drive. So it's important now to make them pay for the mistakes they make."
Kipper has made four appearances and threw 6 2/3 innings for an ERA of 5.40 with three of the four earned runs he has allowed coming in one outing. He has allowed 11 hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
"It's been a little bit of an adjustment," Kipper said. "Getting used to new hitters and the style of game played. Biggest learning curve has making sure every pitch is executed cause hitters make you pay for every mistake you make."
The odds clearly were not insurmountable for these pals to make ikt this far because it came to fruition, but it is still hard to believe that two best friends, who used to be batterymates, faced each other in a professional game.
I’m guessing it isn’t the only it is has ever happened, but it doesn’t make any less special for these two families.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.