Talking to Brett Beller and Brett Joss, you would never get the sense that they have been anything but the best of friends. But for a good part of their childhood, the two freshmen were sworn enemies on two rival baseball teams in Southern California.
"We actually really hated each other for like, four years," Beller said. "There was actually a point during a game where at the age of 11, he actually hit me."
"There was an on-field scuffle before the game," Joss admitted. "He knew I was coming for him. I got the better of him in that round."
Now, however, Beller and Joss comprise a unique pitcher-catcher battery for the Columbia baseball team, a match-up that started on the fields of the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles and has continued to the Ivy League. But the Brett-Brett duo didn't really come together until junior high, when Beller and Joss, at the time playing center field and first base, respectively, got the chance to team up.
"Around the eighth grade, what happened was, our catcher got hurt, and one of our pitchers ended up getting hurt," Beller said. "So I just started to pitch, and he just started to catch."
"That's really first when we became friends," Joss added.
Since then, the two have been, by their own admission, inseparable. In high school, Beller was a four-time letter winner, while Joss was named team MVP and all-league second team his senior season. Their successes brought them to the attention of then-head coach Paul Fernandes and assistant coach Bryan Haley, and although they were both recruited independently, they both ended up at Columbia.
So far this season, Joss has caught every one of Beller's starts, including last weekend's 9-7 win over Yale, the first collegiate win of Beller's career. Both players agree that this personal pitcher-catcher arrangement suits them best.
"He [head coach Brett Boretti] is the general out there, it's always up to him what he would want to do," Joss said. "But it seems like it would make sense [to pair us up]."
As unique as their on-field combination is, the two freshmen stand out all the more because of their off-the-field friendship. The attachment that Beller and Joss have goes beyond the game of baseball-the two laughingly refer to themselves as being in a marriage, and joke about finishing each other's sentences. Rarely a minute passes in which one isn't laughing at a comment the other has made. But for Beller and Joss, it's all about keeping their connection honest and open, even during games.
"Most players would think that you come up with the approach of consoling someone, but that doesn't work," Beller said. "So he [Joss] will normally come out and just taunt me about whatever play has just occurred. If someone hit a 500-foot home run off of me, I'm gonna know about it for a couple of innings because he's gonna keep telling me about it. It eases it."
"We're honest with each other," Joss added. "I know where he's coming from at all times, he knows where I'm coming from."
It's this kind of looseness and camaraderie that Beller and Joss want to bring to the whole team.
"Hopefully, to see how loose we are out there, and how much fun we have together out there makes everyone on the team want to have that same relationship," Joss said. "Now it feels like we've been playing with these guys for a while. I feel like I've known these guys for my whole life."