Tahoe Twins reunite
Former North Tahoe skipper Bob Habeger flashed back to days of grandeur as he read an article recruiting for regional baseball teams.It was February when he read the piece on the Sierra Sun website headlined, andamp;#8220;Adult baseball league calling for Truckee-Tahoe team.andamp;#8221; In the story, the Western Nevada chapter of the National Adult Baseball Association said it was looking to expand, and League President Bobby Amos was hoping to branch out to the Tahoe area andamp;#8212; as well as Hawthorne, Fernley, Yerington, Mason Valley and Douglas County.Habeger, who hails from Carnelian Bay, had an idea about how to represent his region in the wood bat league andamp;#8212; go recruit some of the best players he coached in high school and Senior Babe Ruth.
The same players Habeger coached at North Tahoe, and some from then-rival Truckee who joined his Babe Ruth all-stars, are no longer andamp;#8220;kidsandamp;#8221; andamp;#8212; never mind that he still uses the term. They’re full-fledged adults now, most having graduated high school between 2003 and 2005. This meant past Lakers and Wolverines could make for a competitive adult team, if only someone could round them up.andamp;#8220;I started putting Truckee and North Tahoe kids together about 10 years ago, and it was like, andamp;#8216;Wow, this is a heck of a summer team here,’andamp;#8221; said Habeger, talking about his Babe Ruth team that won three straight state championships, the last about four years ago.While many of those players went on to play college ball, Habeger stayed in touch. He knew some of them would be returning to the area to spend their summers. So he got on the horn, quickly getting 11 players from the area to commit to play. He then recruited coaching help from Larry Orlando and Jack Bernardo, both of whom coached the Laker baseball team after Habeger retired in 2004, as well as current Truckee coach Mike Ellis. The assistants brought in more local talent, pushing the roster to 18.Wrecking crew takes fieldThe result of Habeger’s effort is a new, more seasoned version of the Tahoe Twins, the name eventually settled on for the all-star cast of Babe Ruth players from North Tahoe and Truckee.andamp;#8220;These kids can play,andamp;#8221; Habeger said, perhaps understating just how lethal a team he assembled andamp;#8212; a team that features 13 players with college experience, and nine players from the former Tahoe Twins Babe Ruth team.The Carson Capitals can attest to the Twins’ prowess. So can the Reno Rockies. Both teams have played the Tahoe Twins once this season. The Carson squad fell short by two touchdowns and a field goal this past Sunday, losing 18-1, while the Reno Rockies were routed by about four touchdowns, 27-0, in the season opener June 7.andamp;#8220;This is awesome. We’ve got everyone you could ask for on this team,andamp;#8221; said Bobby Habeger, coach Habeger’s youngest son, after the Twins’ big win on Sunday.andamp;#8220;Most of us have been best friends our whole lives, so we all get along together and we know how to play together.andamp;#8221;
Bobby Habeger, the Twins’ leadoff hitter and shortstop, graduated from North Tahoe in 2003 and went on to transfer to Grand View College in Iowa before returning to the area. Joining the youngest Habeger on the Twins are older brothers Andy and Jamy, as well as former high school teammates Steve Derby, Jesse Brown, Ryan Gilmore and Junior Rameriz andamp;#8212; all 2004 North Tahoe grads, coach Habeger said. Other former Lakers include Randy Jansen, a 2005 grad, Franklin Orlando, the Sierra Sun’s 2006 male Athlete of the Year from North Tahoe, and Sean Bernardo, a 2008 North Tahoe grad and the only player younger than 21. Rob Grimes, Andy Habeger and Jamy Habeger account for the andamp;#8220;old guys on the team,andamp;#8221; coach Habeger said. Grimes graduated from North Tahoe in 1993, Andy Habeger in 1992 and Jamy Habeger in 1990.In addition to the ex-Lakers, Truckee grads Scott Decker (2006) and Jimmy Williams (2005) are on the team, as well as late additions J.R. Murphy (2004) and Nick Smith (2004). All played baseball in college, while Murphy played most recently for the Colorado Rockies’ Short-Season Class A affiliate this past fall.Then there’s Drew Lipnosky from Reno High, Joe Thomas from Southern California and Jesse Hildebrandt from the East Coast. While none are from North Tahoe or Truckee high schools, all have ties to the Tahoe area.
The only team the Twins have yet to face in their league is the 2008 champs, the Fallon Black Sox. But not for long, as the two teams square off 4 p.m. Sunday at North Tahoe Regional Park.Based on what they’ve heard about Fallon, coaches Habeger and Bernardo expect a tougher game than their previous two.andamp;#8220;They said they have a pitcher who can throw 90 (mph),andamp;#8221; coach Bernardo said, andamp;#8220;but we’ve got at least four or five guys who can hit 90.andamp;#8221;If the Twins find out the Black Sox aren’t as competitive as touted, the coaches and players are concerned they could be in for a long season of lopsided wins.andamp;#8220;We were a little disappointed there were only four teams in the league. We were counting on eight, but four teams dropped out,andamp;#8221; coach Habeger said.Because the league has only four teams, the Twins are scheduled to play just once a week andamp;#8212; every Sunday through September. Coach Habeger was hoping to get in two games a week, which is why he stocked his team with six quality pitchers.andamp;#8220;So now that we’re playing only once a week it’s hard to get (all the pitchers) the work they need,andamp;#8221; he said, adding that Ellis is trying to set up more games with various adult-league teams from Reno.No matter what happens during the regular season, coach Habeger said he hopes to take the Twins to compete in the National Adult Baseball Association World Series in Phoenix from Oct. 1 through 4, where they’re sure to meet some stiff competition from across the country.andamp;#8220;Usually they take an all-star team down, but I’ve told (the league president) that if he doesn’t get an all-star team together, I want to take this team,andamp;#8221; coach Habeger said.