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Talented Tuber Makes a Double Play

April 26, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Here's the ultimate dilemma for 16-year-old Peter Tuber of Granada Hills High: In his wildest imagination, he must decide between playing his guitar on stage with Pantera at the Forum or pitching for the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Which one would he choose?

Two years ago, Tuber determined he couldn't do both. He quit baseball to devote his free time to playing his guitar.

Then, last spring, Tuber's father, Rick, wrote a letter to Dodger pitcher Scott Radinsky, a former Simi Valley High star who plays in a punk rock band.

He told Radinsky about Peter's love for music and baseball and sought advice.

"Can you explain how you can do both?" Rick asked Radinsky.

Radinsky sent back a two-page handwritten letter on Dodgertown stationary from Vero Beach.

"I guess I've been in the same boat for at least 15 years since I discovered punk rock, rebeling against everything. I was kicked off my high school team as a sophomore for an attitude problem. I wasn't a jock and there wasn't enough room for someone different. So at 16, I gave up on the whole sports thing and took my music 100%, touring the U.S. and Canada. By the time I was a senior, I'm sure my parents felt the same way you do, but everything they said went in one ear and out the other."

Radinsky invited the Tubers to visit him before a Dodger game. They showed up one night outside the clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.

"Man, you're big," Radinsky said of the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Tuber.

They talked for about 15 minutes. Tuber soon made the decision to end his self-imposed two-year retirement.

"It gave me confidence," Tuber said of his conversation with Radinsky. "I figured if I don't play now, I'm never going to get another chance."

Tuber, a junior right-hander, is on his way to becoming the region's comeback player of the year. Last week, he held top-ranked Chatsworth (20-2) to its lowest scoring output of the season when he lost, 3-0, in a complete-game performance. He struck out six and walked none.

His overall statistics aren't awe-inspiring. He has a 2-5 record and a 6.94 earned-run average. But statistics don't tell how well he has begun to pitch. He's throwing strikes again, as he did during his dominating days as a pitcher for Northridge's 1994 Little League World Series team.

"I'm greatly encouraged," Granada Hills Coach Steve Thompson said. "He hadn't played in two years. He certainly could be a success story."

As a 13-year-old in 1994, Tuber struck out 13 batters to help Northridge win its second game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. He was tall, thin and threw hard for his age. He is the grandson of former Dodger Pete Reiser, who once led the National League in hitting. A year later, Tuber became burned out on baseball and turned to music.

Radinsky knows exactly how he felt.

"As a senior, I was finally tired of watching everyone else play, so I tried out and made the team. My attitude was still the same but I wasn't going to let that bother me from being able to throw a ball as hard as I can. . . . Fortunately, baseball opened all kinds of doors for me. Drafted out of high school by the White Sox enabled me to play ball all summer and have five months a year for music.

"Don't get me wrong--music is still No. 1 to me and always will be even though baseball takes up more time. It took years to realize how fortunate I was to be able to do both. Baseball is not my life, only a part of it. It takes just as much time and devotion as music, no more, no less. Over the years, I've realized how to separate the two and juggle both. And to be honest, I don't think I could just do one or the other. I've learned to love them both equally and am real glad as a senior in high school I woke up one day and decided to try out."

In Tuber's mind, he's still trying to figure out how he can be both musician and baseball player.

"It's hard to find the intensity, but the last couple of weeks I've been trying to play with the passion," he said. "I want to prove myself on the mound."

Pitching for Granada Hills is not the same as Northridge. Any groundball was an out with the likes of Matt Fisher at shortstop during Tuber's Northridge days. At Granada Hills, poor defense has hurt Tuber and the Highlanders' young pitching staff. But Tuber is showing resilience.

"You have to shake it off, learn to deal with it and make quality pitches," he said. "I'm throwing a lot more strikes, getting ahead of hitters more."

Tuber's father is thankful for Radinsky's contributions.

"It was a great thing," he said. "I owe a debt of gratitude to Radinsky. He didn't have to respond."

Tuber is having fun again.

"I'm going to work hard this summer to make my senior year special," he vowed.

As for making the choice between playing for Pantera or pitching for the Dodgers, Tuber said he'd pick the Dodgers. But he added, "I'd like to be in [Pantera's] band."

He'll always be into music, just like Radinsky, who signed his letter, "Scott Radinsky, The Punker."


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