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Hueneme's Unusual Relativity Theory

March 29, 1997

Say uncle and hand him the ball.

Twice this season, Hueneme High pitcher Chris Neri has been relieved by his teammate and uncle, Ruben Neri

Ruben, a 17-year old senior, is eight months older than his nephew, a 17-year-old junior. They came to grips long ago with their unusual proximity in age and the questions it brings.

"We get kind of sick of explaining it," Ruben said. "People will ask if we're brothers or cousins and we just say yes."

Here's the deal: Raymond Neri, 54, and his wife, Sally, have four children. Ruben is the youngest and Raymond Neri Jr., Chris' 35-year-old father, is the oldest.

Despite their perches in the family tree, there is no generation gap between Ruben and Chris, whose families live half a block apart in Port Hueneme.

They have been nearly inseparable since childhood, sharing youth baseball and a wealth of neighborhood experiences.

Ruben drives Chris to school every day.

When they were younger, Chris pitched and Ruben was his catcher. These days, they split time between the mound and the outfield.

Chris, 6 feet and 154 pounds, earned honorable mention All-Channel League recognition last season, but was 0-1 with a 8.75 earned-run average in eight innings entering this week. He was batting .280.

Ruben, 5-7 and 175 pounds, is playing his first varsity season after being academically ineligible last season. He has no decisions and a 2.62 ERA in 10 innings. He was batting .286

Against Notre Dame and Montclair Prep, Ruben has relieved Chris in games the Vikings (8-2) rallied to win.

"When we're slumping we can pick each other up," Ruben said. "If we keep doing that we have a good chance for the playoffs."

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