Moran Brothers’ Following in the Cleats of Their Surhoff Uncles

Baseball’s All-Star Game is much more than a simple exhibition contest featuring the standouts of the year. It’s an event where, on one night in July, some longtime dreams are realized and others are first conceived.

The Orioles’ B.J. Surhoff, a 1982 graduate of Rye High School, was living his down on the field at Fenway Park in the 1999 summer classic. Surhoff earned his way there on the merit of a sizzling first half, hitting .332 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs. It was the first and only All-Star nod in 19 seasons for the former No. 1 overall draft pick, but the appearance also served as inspiration for two young boys in the Boston stands that night.

The pair, brothers Brian and Colin Moran, 11 and 7 years old at the time, are much more than fans of the national pastime. The Rye residents are Surhoff’s nephews, and have long been following in the footsteps of their uncle and his brother, former MLB pro Rich Surhoff.

Brian Moran

Colin, now 17, is headed to the University of North Carolina, just like his brother and uncles before him. He’ll be a corner infielder for the Tar Heels, moving over from the shortstop position he played at Iona Prep.

“I was a UNC fan growing up,” said Colin. “I think half of my wardrobe included Tar Heel shirts or shorts, my favorite color was Carolina blue and I always got into arguments over the UNC-Duke rivalry. It definitely means a lot to me to have the ability to put on the real uniform next year. Hopefully I can have a successful career.”

Colin Moran

Twenty-one-year-old Brian was a walk-on for the Tar Heels, eventually becoming UNC’s premiere option out of the bullpen as well as one of the best relievers in the nation. The 6-foot-3 southpaw finished the 2009 season – his last one for North Carolina – with a 7-1 record and a 2.31 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was a dazzling 90 to 8, and he recorded the final out of the Super Regional victory that sent the Tar Heels to the College World Series.

Then, in June of 2009, Brian was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the MLB Draft with the second pick of the seventh round. “It was really exciting,” he said. “I was so happy to be drafted where I was.”

The 2006 Iona Prep grad was assigned to Seattle’s farm team – the Pulaski Mariners – in the Advanced Rookie League, but it wasn’t long before he was promoted to the Single-A Clinton LumberKings. He earned a spot in the Midwest League All-Star Game representing the Iowa-based team, for which he appeared in 22 games, recording a 1.34 ERA, 48 strikeouts and three saves.

In the beginning of July Brian was promoted once again, this time to the upper echelon Single-A High Desert Mavericks. After giving up three runs in his first two appearances, Brian hasn’t allowed another run in the five games since. His ERA is 2.70 in 10 innings of work out of the bullpen, with 10 strikeouts and just one walk.

It’s been a learning experience for the elder Moran brother, who – from West Virginia to Iowa to California – has been everywhere, man.

“I’ve had a great time traveling,” said Brian. “The minor league experience has allowed me to see places I haven’t seen before. This is my first time in California. My goal with the Mavericks is to play well and help the team as much as I can. My ultimate dream is to make the major leagues and to continue to enjoy playing the game.”

Colin, who is exactly four years and one day younger than Brian, has no doubt that his older brother will continue on the path their uncles paved for the Rye family in the 1980s.

“I think Brian will be a big leaguer,” said Colin without hesitation. “Following his career you realize how he’s produced at every level in which he’s ever played. When he came out of high school he really didn’t have many college opportunities. So, walking on at UNC and becoming one of the key parts of a College World Series team by his sophomore year just shows how he doesn’t give up.”

Colin, who has a roster guarantee and partial scholarship with UNC, says it has always been easy for him to look up to what Brian has done on and off the field. He recalls youthful days spent playing wiffle ball against Brian when they were children, enjoying the competition even if he never won all that much.

The Moran kids’ parents, Bill and Diane, said their sons have been involved with the grass and dirt practically from birth. They attended games as infants, and carried a bat, ball, or glove with them everywhere they went as youngsters. Both played T-ball at Rye Rec, moving on to Rye Little League as soon as they were eligible.

“They were never on the same team officially since they are four years apart, but Colin was at all of Brian’s games, many times on the bench as the bat boy until he was playing in his own games,” said Diane. “We have been privileged to be along for the ride and experience the many highs and lows with them. Baseball has been very good to us!”

When pressed for a favorite memory among the countless accumulated through the years, the Morans said Brian pitching UNC to the College World Series was near the top. For Colin, their proudest moment came when – 10 years after B.J. Surhoff played in the All-Star Game in Boston – their son’s name was announced at Fenway Park as an invited member of the New York Yankees Scout Team. As one might imagine, it was a poignant moment for Colin.

“Playing on the same field as my uncle – not to mention all of the other greats who have played in that park – was really special,” said Colin. “I had the good fortune to get a hit and an RBI and that was a feeling I’ll never forget.”

Both Colin and Brian credit their parents for their development as baseball players, saying they’ve been spoiled by the incredible support received.

B.J. and Rich Surhoff have also been there to lend an ear and give advice when needed, sharing their experiences and respect for the game. It’s not inconceivable that perhaps, one summer night in the future, the Surhoff brothers will be up in the stands, cheering on one – or both – of their nephews in baseball’s summer classic.


One Response to “Moran Brothers’ Following in the Cleats of Their Surhoff Uncles”

  1. Mariners minor leaguers to watch for this month « anderssports Says:

    […] Bobby LaFromboise on top (Last of the Ninth) and Brian Moran on bottom (Rye Record Sports) […]

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