ORLEANS ---- When Kevin Muno (San Diego) graduated from Loyola (Calif.) High School, he figured it would be the last time he played with his younger brother. Muno chose to attend the University of San Diego, and a year later, his brother, Danny, headed to Fresno State.
But they were reunited last summer with the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“I never really thought about it,” Kevin said about the prospect of playing alongside his brother after high school. “And it came true and it hit me that we were playing together again. It was pretty special when we were coming to Orleans for the first time.”
Last summer was a struggle for both Munos, as Kevin hit .257 and Danny only .222. The Cape League looked like a one-shot deal for both, but they were added to the Firebirds roster one week before this season opened.
“It was a blast last year,” Danny said. “We did everything together, and now we are treasuring it a lot more this year.”
Last week, the two added another memento to their playing careers, combining to go 8-for-12 against the Falmouth Commodores, with Danny collecting five hits and Kevin three. Neither could remember a better single game performance.
“To have that kind of night together on the Cape is quite an experience,” Danny said.
That covers a lot of playing days. The two are 13 months apart, but they were teammates throughout their youth.
“My mom would always change my age so I could play with Kevin,” Danny said.
So much has changed from those Little League days. Both have facial hair sprouting from their chins and both have been building toward whatever the future may bring.
“In Little League, the main focus was having fun and going to pizza parties afterwards,” Kevin said. “You want to come back to that feeling of playing in Little League and playing with your brother and having fun and playing with the other Firebirds. That’s the real secret, to think of it as playing in your backyard and enjoying it.”
The brothers are not the only ones savoring the experience. Orleans field manager Kelly Nicholson had the opportunity to watch them grow up in Southern California as a teacher at Loyola High.
“They are the same type of kids now,” he said. “You want them on your team and they are going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. They are baseball rats, and they are really good teammates and winners.”
The connection runs even deeper for Nicholson. During his playing days, he had the opportunity to play with their father, Kevin Sr., in a Los Angeles summer league. The coach of that team? Kevin and Danny’s grandfather.
“Time flies,” Nicholson said. “What goes around comes around. It is really special for me. I told them last summer that it meant a lot to me to see them up here and playing.”
It also makes Kevin and Danny’s parents happy. Whenever the two met during the spring season, the parents cheered strictly for the player on offense. But they have been able to root for both just as much the last two summers.
“It is great they don’t have to go back and forth and can just cheer for the same team,” Danny said.
And while Kevin may be the oldest, Danny possesses something his older brother doesn’t ---- a national championship with Fresno State during his freshman season.
“I was so proud of him,” Kevin said. “I was overcome with joy. There is no jealousy there.”
This summer presents the opportunity for both to claim a ring with the Firebirds. Two Muno brothers hoisting the championship trophy would be pretty special.
“That would be really, really nice,” Nicholson said.