IF THE FAMOUS Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, the pride of Prep Charter (and Kansas), need some advice on how to prepare for what almost certainly will be separate NBA lives, they might want to talk with Josh and Michael Ockimey.
These (fraternal) twins are no longer joined at the hip. At least not completely.
Josh, a 6-2, 205-pound first baseman, is already enjoying big moments for the baseball team at Ss. Neumann-Goretti. Michael, who's older by 1 minute (and lighter by 35 pounds; same height), can be found at Monsignor Bonner, where his primary sport is football and he also plays basketball.
"We both made visits to schools," Josh said yesterday. "He liked Bonner the best and I liked Neumann the best. He thought that school would be his best move for the football, and I thought this school would be my best for baseball; I knew a lot of these guys from playing together on youth teams.
"We were always together in school. Same classes. Everything. All day. So it's definitely different not seeing him for 6, 7 hours. But, of course, I still see him at home. We talk about our days."
Last night at the Ockimey abode, near 78th and Lindbergh in Southwest Philly, here's guessing Josh's this-is-what-happened-today story dwarfed Michael's.
As the Saints, perfect overall at 19-0, rolled to a 13-3, five-inning win over visiting Lansdale Catholic in a Catholic League quarterfinal, the freshman went 2-for-3 with five RBI.
The lefty swinger (and thrower) tapped out to the mound in his first at-bat. In the third, he crushed a three-run triple over the head of rightfielder Kevin Neumann, breaking a 1-1 tie, and in a six-run fourth, he spanked a two-run single in the same direction.
Even without the heroics, Ockimey would have been a conversation piece. He's N-G only African-American player and, honestly, one of the few in the Catholic League.
"I can't even explain why African-Americans don't play much baseball," Ockimey said. "You see guys like Andrew McCutchen and Prince Fielder, and they're the best guys on their teams. I don't know why African-Americans wouldn't want to follow that example. Like, 'If they can do it, I can do it, too.'
"There are maybe one or two [African-American people] in my whole neighborhood that play baseball. And that's just casually. But my family's really into it. All my uncles played."
Right after he powered his triple, a look of surprise appeared on Ockimey's face.
"Really, I thought I got jammed," he said, laughing. "I couldn't believe it went that far."
Second baseman Mike "Zoom" Zolk, a North Carolina signee, also starred for the Saints, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Marty Venafro, Jimmy Kerrigan and John Snyder added RBI singles, while Nicky Nardini drove in a run with a groundout.
Junior lefty Joe Gorman, mostly wonderful this season but coming off a stretch of inactivity, pitched all five frames, but was reached for seven hits. He also walked three and plunked one.
For the Crusaders, John Welch laced an RBI single in the second for a 1-0 lead, then Eric Lewandowski (single) and Neumann (double) added RBI in the fifth.
Assuming he continues to perform well, Ockimey will end his career as a 4-year starter, matching the feat of the guy he succeeded, Mark Donato (though he attended Roman Catholic as a freshman).
"I did not expect to start this year," Ockimey said. "I kept working hard all winter and it paid off. I was a starter in our very first game, which was nice. I guess the coaches saw something in me, even going back to last summer with my travel team."
Ockimey figures the twins "were ready for the separation, because he was getting what he wanted, footballwise, and I was getting what I wanted, baseballwise. It's working out great. Michael made his decision maybe 2 to 3 weeks before I did. We didn't try to talk each other into staying together."
So, is Josh Michael? Is Michael Josh?
"If you were around both of us," he said, "you'd see we're basically the same person. We have the same competitiveness. We always want to win. Always want to be on top. And we never want to be wrong."
Pause. "Oh, and we're very nice people."
So are Marcus and Markieff. Maybe that's the rule in Twinsville. *