Jan. 28, 2003
Millions of young boys throughout the world dream of the day when Major League Baseball comes calling, million-dollar check in hand. Given the opportunity to live that dream last summer, however, Husky senior Tila Reynolds said, "No, thanks."
You see, there are some things which are more important than playing in the majors. For Reynolds, that included the opportunity to play Division-I baseball with his younger brother, Simi, a freshman on the UW squad.
After a scintillating junior season in which he ranked among the Pac-10 leaders in triples, steals, hits and at-bats, Tila, a shortstop, was selected in he 13th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Tila was ready to fulfill his dream and sign on the dotted line with Milwaukee when he learned that the Husky football and baseball coaches were both actively recruiting Simi, then a high-school senior at Skyline in Issaquah.
"You can't put a price on playing with your brother," Tila says. "When I learned that Simi and I could play together there was no question about it, I knew I was going to come back and finish out my senior year."
Separated by three years in school, the Reynolds brothers have remarkably never before suited up for the same team, teaming up only in neighborhood sandlot games. Finally being able to wear the same uniform means a lot to them.
"I love looking behind me and seeing my brother in center field," Tila says. "It's Reynolds up the middle! We come from a real close-knit family, and we know that no one is going to be there for you like your brother."
Tila and Simi have two other brothers: Kerisi plays baseball at Oregon State, while their youngest brother, Tanielu, has spent much of his life in a wheelchair due to a childhood disease. While Tila, Kerisi and Simi achieve heroics on the field, it is Tanielu who inspires all three to greatness, not just in baseball, but more importantly, in life.
"He is what has kept us tight as a family," says Simi, who just completed his first season of football with the Huskies and is now preparing for baseball season. "We know that no matter how hard things seem, they could always be worse. There are people who can't do the things that we enjoy doing everyday, which really helps to put things in perspective."
Now that the baseball season is underway, the two brothers will look to each other for support. The veteran Tila has been a mentor to Simi, guiding him through the ins and outs of athletics and academics at the collegiate level.
"Tila has taught me a lot, most importantly about how to make the necessary adjustments from high school to college," Simi says. "I've always looked up to him, and now not only have we become teammates, but we've become best friends as well."
The two brothers share an apartment together with another teammate, and spend just as much time together off the field as they do at practice. One shouldn't assume, however, that the discussion always leads back to baseball. Both are trained pianists, while Tila is a business management major and Simi is planning on majoring in communications.
Soon, Simi might have to share time with Tila with the latter's girlfriend, Lori, who accepted Tila's proposal of marriage this past Christmas.
"Everything is really exciting right now, between my engagement, graduation this spring, and being able to play baseball with my brother," Tila says. "I'm just taking everything one day at a time, so that I can enjoy every second of it."
More than a story about turning down a major league contract, and more than the tale of two brothers reunited on a Division-I baseball diamond, the Reynolds story is about a family which understands the value of time spent together, and puts its love for each other above all else.
Diamond engagement ring? Thousands.
Major-league contract? Millions.
Passing up every boy's dream for the chance to share a unique experience with your brother? Priceless.