With the start of the 2012 campaign still a few weeks away, junior captain Andrew Ferreira has already gotten a taste of tough competition. During a recent in-practice scrimmage, the left-handed pitcher was matched up against a familiar face. And when freshman catcher Ethan Ferreira—Andrew’s younger brother—stepped up to the plate, the Harvard baseball team took immediate notice of the imminent display of sibling rivalry.
“You could just sense it,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh recounted. “Andrew’s on the mound, Ethan’s coming to the plate, and all eyes are on the two of them, knowing this is a brother battle.”
Four pitches later, with the count knotted, 2-2, Andrew hurled one more toward his brother. Ball three.
“I thought it was a strike,” Walsh said. “But the umpire calls it a ball, and you could just see Andrew going like, ‘I had that pitch.’ And the next pitch, Ethan got it all. I thought there was going to be a hole in the bubble [that covers Harvard Stadium during the winter months].”
Ethan rounded the bases—an uncustomary act during a scrimmage in the indoor facility—and play resumed as usual.
“The dynamic [between the two brothers] is amazing,” Walsh said. “They keep it quiet, but we had a good confrontation in practice.... You could see the smoke coming out of Andrew’s ears, yet I think he was also pretty happy for Ethan.”
A semester into college life, Ethan credits Andrew for much of his speedy transition to baseball at Harvard.
“It’s pretty sweet having an older brother who’s the captain of the baseball team,” Ethan said. “I’ve never really been away from home much, and having him on the team—it’s even better because I’ve never really played with him [until now]. I always feel him watching me when I’m playing, making sure I’m getting better.”
The benefits appear to be mutual. With one pitcher and one catcher in the family, the Rehoboth, Mass. natives play to each other’s strengths.
“It’s amazing, you know, when you have an older brother who’s a pitcher, the younger brother becomes a catcher,” Walsh said. “It happens all the time. It’s like, ‘Okay, we need you to catch him.’”
But according to Andrew, his brother’s penchant for catching is a sort of family tradition—their father, Roger, was a catcher at Providence College—and in fact, both brothers started out playing behind home plate.
“Growing up, I was always a catcher,” Andrew said. “But being left handed, it couldn’t work out, so once I got a little older, I gravitated toward pitching.”
“Since [Ethan] was right handed, he could be a catcher,” he continued. “He just took after my dad, and it kind of worked out with us pitching and catching. It makes it fun.”
In high school, Ethan was a Gatorade Player of the Year nominee in both baseball and football, helping his teams to a total of three state championships, including two in baseball, during his four years at Bishop Hendricken. But playing in college offers additional challenges.
“The game’s definitely faster [in college],” Ethan said. “Having a kid that’s been on the team for three years and is the captain now—he’s obviously a role model for other people—definitely made the transition a lot smoother. ”