Bronx-Born Brothers Set to Have Coaching Showdown on Baseball Diamond
By Dylan Butler on April 9, 2013 7:33am
NEW YORK — Move over, Harbaugh brothers — the newest sibling rivalry in sports is the Del Valles.
Bronx-bred brothers Kevin and Keith Del Valle, who each pitched at Salesian High School, will coach against each other for the first time Tuesday afternoon when Regis takes on Salesian in New Rochelle.
The regular season CHSAA Class AA game at Fr. John Blanco Ballpark might not have the same magnitude as Super Bowl XLVII, where John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens defeated Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers, but try telling that to Keith Del Valle.
“It’s very exciting,” said the first-year coach at the prestigious Upper East Side school. “I’ve had a more competitive edge than he has. It means a lot. It’s one of those games where if you win, you’re at the dinner table at Thanksgiving and Christmas bragging.”
And that’s just what Keith, 24, intends to do if victorious.
“I’m definitely going to walk in and say, 'I told you so!'” Keith said. “There’s going to be no questions anymore who is the better coach.”
That might be up for debate for now, but Kevin, 32, does concede that his younger brother was better on the mound.
“I’ve always said Keith was a better pitcher than me,” Kevin said. “I was on the better teams.”
The brothers grew up in Throgs Neck and both attended St. Helena School in Parkchester. They also both pitched at Salesian and went on to play college baseball — Kevin at Quinnipiac and Keith at Mount St. Vincent.
Kevin, who is in his third year as Salesian coach, said he got the coaching bug as a 19-year-old while helping out over a weekend with Keith’s summer league team in New Rochelle.
“That just got me,” Kevin said.
Kevin was the head coach at Monsignor Scanlan, in Throgs Neck, for five years, guiding the Crusaders to the 2010 CHSAA Class B title. Making the win even sweeter was that he got to share it with his father, Rich, who served as an assistant coach and played at Scanlan from 1977-80.
“Other than getting married and having my two kids, I always remember hugging my dad after we won that 2010 championship,” Kevin said. “That was awesome.”
When Kevin left to become Salesian coach, Keith took over as Scanlan coach at the urging of his father.
“I didn’t really want to get into coaching,” Keith said. “My dad left Scanlan for Salesian [with Kevin] and he was afraid the program would go into shambles. He came to me and said, 'I think you should coach Scanlan.'
"I didn’t think I’d have the time," he added, "but I went in there and he introduced me to the kids.”
In just two short years at Scanlan, Keith also captured a ‘B’ title, winning the crown last spring. He's hoping to return Regis to its previous glory. The Raiders last competed for the 'AA' title in 2007.
“It brought me great enjoyment working with talented young kids, seeing them progress throughout the year,” Keith said.
Keith is beginning his first year at Regis and ironically, the game against Salesian is the Raiders' league opener. He followed in his brother’s footsteps throughout his baseball career, but now Keith is walking his own path.
“It would mean a lot,” Keith said of beating his brother. “It would quiet all the critics as to who the better coach is.”
Keith has been trying to prove himself since he started coaching. Although he’s 24, he looks like he could still be a high school player. In fact, his dad said opposing coaches on a preseason trip to Tampa last week mistook him as the head coach.
“The toughest thing for Keith will be getting the trust from the Regis kids that the work they put in now will pay off,” Rich said.
Although Rich joined Kevin on the move to Salesian, this season he’s working as a “roving pitching coach,” according to Kevin, who has a young, but talented squad.
Rich said he’s trying to divide his time equally between his sons, though he won’t be anywhere near New Rochelle on Tuesday afternoon. A senior vice president of sales and marketing at West Coast-based IMS Corp., he will be in China on business.
However, he said there’s no truth to the rumor he left the country to avoid rooting for one son over the other.
“It just makes it easier for me to choose a uniform,” Rich said.
The brothers speak every day, but both have avoided asking the other who they’re pitching on Tuesday.
While Kevin doesn’t share his younger brother’s fervor for trash talk, he said he’s going to make sure to set Keith straight when the two meet at home plate before the game.
“It’s going to be fun giving him the lineup card and making sure he understands ground rules at Salesian so he doesn’t cheat,” Kevin joked.
But once the game starts, its all business.
“That will be fun, but once the first pitch is thrown, I’m just looking at us and I think he’s going to be doing the same thing,” Kevin said. “This will be the only day I’m not going to be a Regis fan.”