Family ties: Knapek twins bond on and off the diamond

Photo illustration by Kam Gillham

Ben Malakoff, Contributing Writer

If it weren’t for the numbers on the back of their jerseys, it would be hard to tell the Knapek twins apart. The biggest physical difference between the two is Carter Knapek is left-handed and is one inch shorter than Brooks Knapek, who throws with his right and is listed at 6-foot-2.

In their high school years, the brothers began to help each other develop their arsenal of pitches. Both of them had a fastball, changeup and curveball, which Carter began to replace with his slider. This past winter, Brooks went to his brother to help develop his slider.

“I had to go to Carter for the grip,” Brooks said. “I wanted to control it and have it be effective.”

The twins have been playing baseball since they were 3 years old. Since then, they have been on the same team, even if the sport was basketball or hockey.

The decision to continue playing on the same team was made in 2018 when the brothers decided to leave the University of Massachusetts after their sophomore year and transfer to VCU.

“Out of high school, we both wanted to stay together,” Carter said. “We decided we wanted to stay together again, and VCU was just a great fit for us.”

The decision meant that they both had to redshirt and sit out during the 2019 season. Both the brothers were with the team but could not play due to NCAA transfer rules.

“It was a tough year,” Brooks said. “You’re working out, you’re part of the team but you’re kind of really not. … You’re not fighting for any playing time.”

The year away from playing in games did not mean the twins stopped competing with each other. Since they were kids, the Knapeks have been competitive to push each other to perform well.

“Always keeping that same standard,” Brooks said. “It’s also someone else watching your back making sure that you are performing to that standard.”

Before their seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus, Carter logged five appearances out of the bullpen while Brooks recorded one. The twins combined for nine innings pitched.

After their baseball careers are over, Brooks and Carter Knapek don’t plan to separate. Both enjoy many of the same activities and are majoring in political science. They both aspire to be sports agents.

“We share the same major, we’re in a bunch of the same classes,” Carter Knapek said. “Whether it’s just homework or just hanging out, we all have the same group of friends. We really do have a bunch of the same interests” 

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