When Silver Lake Regional High junior Stephen Quigley, ran out to his shortstop position April 5, the 17-year-old found a new but very welcome presence to his immediate left.
His brother, Michael, a 14-year-old freshman, was playing second base. It was the first time, the brothers from Halifax said, that they’d ever been teammates in something other than a pickup game.
“The double play combo wasn’t planned,” said Stephen. Michael is primarily a pitcher, he continued, but with the team well stocked in that department, “our coach wanted Michael to play second.”
For the younger Quigley, the transition was greatly expedited by help from his bother, who’s been playing middle infield since he was 5.
With that experience, Stephen knows something about how ground balls bounce, a knowledge he’s been passing on in almost daily practices, sometimes taking the form of competitions, with his brother. The two relentlessly practice turning double plays as part of their drills.
“The transition to second base for Michael looks to be an easier process than he expected,” said Silver Lake baseball coach Kenny Tocci, “and he’s doing really well over there at the first part of the season. [The Quigleys’] practice off the field shows during the games, because their chemistry is perfect.”
That was evident during an April 13 game at Duxbury when the brothers turned their first double play of the season. Michael said the throw from Stephen was perfect, which allowed him to quickly exchange the ball to his hand and throw it to first.
Their biggest game came April 28 at home against Scituate, when the two played a role in 12 of 21 outs in a 2-0 victory for the Lakes (8-3). Stephen was involved in seven plays and Michael five, with a combined double play in that number. Neither committed an error.
Both around the same height and weight and both sporting sunglasses and eye black and clad in their Silver Lake uniforms — Stephen wears No. 23, Michael 24 — the double play combo could pass as doubles themselves.
“A lot of fans ask me if I have a twin on second base,’’ said Stephen, “and I always laugh and explain it’s my brother.
“Hopefully,” he added, “that Quigley name stays in Silver Lake baseball for a few more years after me and Michael are gone.”
Turns out there are two younger brothers in the Quigley family pipeline — 13-year-old Chris and 11-year-old Jack. Both play middle infield and, according to elder brother Stephen, would love to be a Silver Lake double play combo of their own some day.
Coach Tocci doesn’t know much about the younger brothers, but he likes what he’s seen of the Quigley clan’s DNA. He first encountered Michael, his new second baseman, as a constant presence last year at Stephen’s games, and during a chat on the field earlier this year as Michael was cooling down after a workout, he got a strong sense of how passionate the freshman was about both baseball and playing on the varsity, and how humble and driven he is about improving.
“Michael puts in the effort and work needed to become a great player,” Tocci said. “That’s why he’s a starting second baseman as a freshman.”
Michael said he hopes to transition back to pitching at some point, because that’s his true passion. He enjoys having the ability to control the game with one pitch from his hand. In the meantime, he’s dedicated to learning all he can about playing second base.
Stephen, meanwhile, as he looks forward to his senior year, wants to be that go-to leader teammates can look to no matter what the circumstances.
“I look at the shortstop position as the second quarterback on the field,” Stephen Quigley said. “Catcher is the first quarterback, but I feel like I always need to be communicating with the infield and the outfield.”
He’ll do so with an appreciative brother at his side.
“There’s something about playing baseball with your brother,’’ said Michael, “that makes the season even better. I can’t wait to turn more double plays and create more memories with my brother for the next two years.”