Competition drives Price brothers|[3/23/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2005

At an offseason conditioning session last summer, Steven Price bench pressed five pounds more than his younger brother, Stanton. Undeterred, Stanton threw another 10 pounds on the bar and lifted it with ease.

Steven, not wanting to lose, added 10 pounds to that weight and lifted it. The two traded lifts several more times, each brother not wanting to give in to the other.

Both Prices remember the competition – Steven eventually won by a few pounds – but in the long run, the outcome doesn’t matter. When it comes to the final goal, success on the baseball field, both the Prices and the Vicksburg Gators are winners.

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The two brothers have keyed Vicksburg’s hot start this season on the mound and at the plate. They have combined for seven of the Gators’ 12 wins this season and both are hitting well over .300.

“They’re quality at the plate and quality on the hill. It’s pretty rare when you find guys like that,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said. “The success they’re having is pretty phenomenal.”

The Prices credit their success to an ongoing competition with each other. Whether the game is weightlifting, running or baseball, both brothers are driven to outdo the other.

“I guess it’s just being brothers and trying to be better than one another,” Steven Price said. “It’s intensified more as we’ve gotten older.”

It’s been going on their whole lives, though.

When they were younger, their father would give them spending money based on how many repetitions they could do in various exercises. Each push up, sit up or sprint was worth a penny. The two brothers would compete with each other to see who could earn more.

“We usually earned about the same,” Stanton said. “We pushed each other with that.”

As the years went on, Steven has had to fend off his brother more and more. When it comes to baseball he’s been ahead for most of their lives. But Stanton, a freshman, has caught up in recent years.

He’s hitting .333 this season with two home runs and 19 RBIs, 10 more than Steven. Stanton also has a better record on the mound (4-1), although Steven (3-0) has pitched fewer innings and has a lower ERA.

“Him being older drives me more to be better than him,” Stanton Price said.

Creel believes Stanton Price is already on the fast track to stardom.

“Stanton’s got a chance to be the best ballplayer to come out of here. His potential is unbelievable,” Creel said. “He doesn’t approach or play the game like a ninth-grader.”

Steven, who describes himself as the more laid-back of the two brothers, offered a similar assessment.

“He’s all right,” Steven said with a chuckle.

Stanton’s success may be another subtle way of competing with his brother. Steven Price started for Vicksburg as a freshman in 2003 and hit .390. He led the team with four homers and was third with 20 RBIs.

This season, Steven has overcome an 0-for-17 slump at the beginning of the year to raise his average to .364. He also has one homer and nine RBIs from the leadoff spot.

“Steven’s as fine a hitter as there ever was, and he was letting the pitchers dictate to him what he hits,” Creel said of Price’s early slump. “He changed his whole approach and things have been better ever since.”

What won’t be changing is the Price brothers’ approach to practice. As long as they’re playing and competing against each other – even when on the same team – they’ll push each other hard.

They’ve pitched against each other a few times in scrimmage games, and both players said they didn’t want to give up a hit.

“You just want to put a little extra on that fastball,” Steven said.

When it’s all over, though, they’ll still act like brothers. Each one roots for the other and offers advice. Whether it’s taken is a different story.

“I’ll try to tell him,” Steven said, adding with a smile. “Sometimes he might not listen, but I know a little more than he thinks I do.”