Blue Springs graduate Hayden Ludwig joked that he and Luke Miller can’t get away from each other.
Not only did they play baseball together at Blue Springs High School, they are also on the same team at Columbia College and are both on the Seaboard squad of the Ban Johnson League this summer.
Naturally, they both played with each other once again in the Ban Johnson League All-Star game Monday at Kauffman Stadium for the Bs team, which lost 5-1 to the Js squad.
“We’ve remained close since high school,” Ludwig said. “It just kind of happened the way it was going for us (both playing for Columbia College). We’re both academically minded and it was a good fit for both of us. I am really happy to have to come along with me.
“We played on the same YBC team in the summer and that team transitioned into Seaboard. It happened seamlessly. I guess we are just stuck with each other.”
Miller had similar things to say about Ludwig.
“Hayden is a great guy to be around,” said Mooney, who was 0-for-2 Monday. “There’s never a dull moment with him.”
Joining them was former Blue Springs player Zachary Lintzen, who played one year with Blue Springs but mostly played with the YBC travel team during high school. Brigham Mooney was the lone teammate who played for Blue Springs South as he got the chance to play with former rivals Monday. It was a reunion of sorts for all four players.
“It’s crazy how that stuff works out,” Mooney, who plays for the BJ Raiders, said of playing with three former Blue Springs players. “I played against them basically my whole life, even in little league. Then you’re rivals in high school and then you get to come here and meet up with them.”
Before the game, Mooney and Ludwig talked about the times they played against each other in high school.
“Hayden and I are good buddies,” Mooney said. “Everything has always been cool between us.”
It was the first time playing at Kauffman Stadium for Ludwig, Miller and Lintzen. Ludwig was especially excited to step on the field.
“I always came here growing up, but I had never made it down to the field,” said Ludwig, who was 0-for-1 Monday. “It’s awesome to be here and there’s good weather.”
Added Lintzen: “This is an experience you will remember forever.”
And all four still have their college baseball seasons to look forward to next spring.
For Miller, he was the backup catcher for Columbia College, but for his senior year, he wants to be the starter. He started to hit better this summer with Seaboard as he had a .267 batting average with a .717 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage).
“I want to be able to start a lot of the games if not every game,” said Miller, who went 0-for-2 Monday but threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the fourth inning. “Last season didn’t go too well. It was an off year. I have been working hard to get back on track.
“This summer helped me get out of my slump from college. It helped me get a lot more reps. Our last 10 games, our other catcher got hurt, so I played every game. I changed my approach and where my hands were placed. That helped a lot.”
Mooney is looking forward to possibly having his first healthy season after transferring to Emporia State from Kansas City Kansas Community College this year. He missed the entire season with the Hornets due to a lateral meniscus tear he suffered in a Ban Johnson playoff game last year. He had to apply for a medical redshirt as he was out for six months.
“This is my first game this summer back,” said Mooney, who hit .276 for the BJ Raiders and had an .811 OPS with one home run and 18 RBIs. “It was good to get my feet wet again. I hope to come in and win a starting spot (at second base).”
Lintzen, who was 0-for-2 with the Bs, will be in a similar boat as Mooney as he will play for a brand new team at Avila University. He played two years at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College. During his sophomore season, he hit .319 with 15 RBIs. With Regal Plastic, a Ban Johnson team, he hit .291 and had 13 RBIs.
He has served as a utility guy for every team he’s been on and has played every position on the field except pitcher.
“One guy asked me, ‘What position do you play? And I said, ‘I play baseball. I play it all.’”
Anthony Hanson of the MSBL Royals was the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.