They didn’t walk off the field at Kauffman Stadium with a win, but brothers Jeremy and Jake Lufft left with something more – a lifetime of memories.
For the first time in either of their careers, two of the best players in the history of Blue Springs High School are teammates.
And they are all-stars as they started for the J All-Stars in the 50th anniversary Ban Johnson League All-Star game Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Even the sting of a 10-1 loss to their rival B All-Stars did not diminish the moment for the two brothers.
Jeremy is a veteran member of the NKC Apartments Giants while little brother Jake, who also plays for Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s in American Legion baseball, is a first-year Giant.
“Of all the things that have happened to me in my baseball career, and there have been a lot of highlights,” said Jeremy, who played shortstop while Jake was alongside at third base, “this is in the top five.
“Playing with Jake, playing shortstop with him playing third, playing in front of our family and so many of our friends from Blue Springs, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Jeremy is having a monster year for the Giants, hitting .406 with seven homers and 32 RBIs – both good for second in the league – in just 25 games.
Jake has appeared in just 12 games for the Giants and is hitting .537 (16-for-34) with three homers and 13 RBIs.
“It doesn’t get much better than playing with your older brother,” said Jake, who had competed against Jeremy when he was playing for a Kansas City Royals scout team but had never been his teammate. “What’s cool about playing shortstop and third is that we get to talk the entire game. It’s pretty cool.”
And speaking of “cool,” Jake is playing 16 games over a 12-day period with the A’s and Giants.
“People ask me about that and I tell them I love the game,” Jake said. “There is nothing I would rather do than play baseball. That’s all I’ve done all my life.”
Upon hearing that comment, Jeremy grins.
“I graduate soon and I have to get a big-boy job,” Jeremy, a senior at Rockhurst University said with a laugh. “I had a chance to play with the T-Bones (an American Association independent pro league team that plays in Kansas City, Kansas). They called and asked if I had a passport. I did – but it had expired. They were playing in Canada and I didn’t have the chance to go with them.”
Jeremy grounded out and popped out in two appearances while Jake walked and struck out. Jake also allowed one run, with one strikeout in an eighth-inning relief appearance.
“Man, that was so cool,” Jake said, when asked about pitching at Kauffman. “Warming up in the bullpen was amazing, then, walking out to the mound and pitching in a big league stadium was pretty amazing. Like everything else about tonight, I will never forget it.”
• Seaboard’s Maurice Bruce Jr., was the game’s MVP. He had a homer, and RBI double and scored two runs for the B All-Stars.
• The B All-Stars hit for the cycle as a team in the fifth inning with Jackson Berk getting a single, Bruce hitting a double, Cody Lampe tripling and Ben Van Diest hitting a solo homer.
• Frank White, the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame second baseman who played in the 1972 Ban Johnson All-Star Game, was on hand to visit with the players.
“I’ll be honest with you,” quipped White, “I don’t think most of them even know who I am.”
He was wrong, as he was surrounded by players from both teams before he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.