Not so long ago, on a Little League field in Riverside, the Fisher brothers were engaged in a strange duel.
Erik, 12, was on the mound. Kiel, 9, was catching. Erik became frustrated and upset. Their father, Mac, walked to the mound and tried to figure out what was wrong.
"Dad, Kiel's making faces at me underneath his mask," Erik said. "Tell him to stop."
So ended the days of one Fisher brother catching for the other. There are no hard feelings.
This summer, Erik, 21, is getting married after graduating from the Air Force Academy. Kiel, 18, will be the best man. He's supposed to say a few words in a toast.
"I'm working on it," Kiel said.
Everyone is holding his breath because having fun is part of Kiel's personality and making people laugh is his life's mission, next to hitting a baseball.
Kiel, pronounced Kyle, is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior third baseman at Riverside Poly High. He has spent nearly as much time wearing a baseball uniform as pajamas.
"Baseball has definitely shaped me," he said. "It's part of what I am. When you've been doing it your whole life, it almost becomes second nature."
He signed with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last November. He has a 4.0 grade-point average and scored 1250 on the SAT. He hit six home runs and drove in 39 runs as a junior. This season, he has seven home runs and is batting .438.
"I've always been able to hit the ball," he said.
Riverside Poly begins play in the Babe Herman tournament today at Arcadia High. Crescenta Valley, Palos Verdes Peninsula, West Torrance and La Habra Sonora are the other top teams competing through Wednesday at Arcadia and Stengel Field in Glendale.
As devoted as Fisher is to baseball, he has never lost perspective on why he plays the game.
"I wouldn't be playing if it wasn't fun," he said. "Myself and all my teammates, we play because we love it."
But Fisher isn't consumed by baseball. He's perfectly comfortable acting like a kid.
That's why he came home last month all excited, not because he hit two home runs against Valencia, but because he learned that the brother of shortstop Eric Harryman is friends with the drummer from Blink-182.
While his parents were gushing over his home runs, Fisher kept changing the subject.
"This is more important," he said. "He's going to get us backstage passes for Blink-182."
Coach Aaron Moore of Riverside Poly has difficulty not smiling when the subject turns to Fisher.
"He's smarter than I'll ever be," he said. "I can't even spell some of the classes he's taking. He's got a great personality. He's very outgoing. He knows when to joke, when to work hard. I wish I had nine of him."
Fisher's mother is a schoolteacher. His father is a lawyer. His brother pitches for Air Force. Fisher plans to major in political science in college.
He just might follow his father into the legal field because he's good with dramatic closing arguments.
"I think I'm pretty persuasive," he said.
His mother supposedly named him after one of the actors from the television series, "Hill Street Blues."
He's good at practical jokes, such as sending a freshman junior varsity player on a search for things he'd never find--a left-handed fungo, a key to the batter's box, a box of curveballs and a fence drill.
"It went on for about an hour," Fisher said. "He thought we were serious. He'd go back down to the JV field and ask the JV coach."
Playing baseball is what Fisher wants to do for as long as he can.
"I have the tools," he said. "I just have to continue to improve."
Fisher knows first hand that baseball is a game of hits and misses. As a sophomore against Santa Ana Mater Dei, he went four for four. As a senior against the Monarchs, he went hitless in six at-bats of a doubleheader and made three errors.
"I was pretty upset," he said. "I played pretty bad."
When he got home, his father greeted him.
"He treated me the same as if we won the game," he said. "He patted me on the back and said, 'You'll get 'em tomorrow.' "
Such is life in the Fisher house, where everyone has a clear understanding what's important and having fun is near the top of the list.
Eric Sondheimer can be reached at email@example.com