It was a lifelong dream fulfilled. On Aug. 21, just a few days after being recalled from the Minor Leagues by the Cardinals, Richie and Joshua Palacios faced off on a Major League field for the very first time. With both parents in attendance, Joshua -- who is Richie's senior by close to two years -- got the upper hand. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs for the Pirates in Pittsburgh's 11-1 win over the Cardinals.
It led to Joshua celebrating in the way all big brothers must: By announcing their sibling superiority from across the field. But while Richie would later enter the game and lace a single to -- who else? -- his brother, Joshua had to answer to Mom after the game.
"I got flamed by my mom," Joshua said with a laugh when both brothers and their family were at MLB Studios recently. "[She was] like, 'Richie didn't even get to play and you're out here screaming you're the big brother!' But it was a good day. Everybody was happy. I got a couple of knocks. He came in and he got a knock and he actually hit the ball to me. So that was a pretty wild day."
Richie, who would homer the next day, even knocking the ball a few feet further than his older brother, echoes the sentiment.
"Yeah, I don't even remember what happened after," Richie said. "We were just with the family, taking pictures on the field and stuff, being able to enjoy that moment as a family. So that was awesome."
While this was the first time the two brothers had faced off in the big leagues, they actually played together just a few months earlier as teammates for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The two had grown up watching the tournament together, even hiding their phones in their desks if the games were on during class.
"That was one of my dreams, for sure, to play with my brother," Richie said. "Our dream was [to play together] in the Major Leagues, but we actually got to do it in the World Baseball Classic, playing for my mom's country and her heritage. Being able to go out there and play for something bigger than yourself and play for your family was definitely an important thing for me."
But just what is it like to have a brother in the big leagues? For the Palacios brothers, it means always having someone who has your back, who can help get you through the hard times and who -- as anyone with a sibling knows -- you can always tease mercilessly.
The two Brooklyn-born boys -- their parents' first date was at Park Slope's long-standing Smiling Pizza over 40 years ago -- made that clear during our laughter-filled discussion at MLB Studios recently. That conversation is below, edited and condensed slightly for clarity.
MLB: OK, you both have played against each other now and have been teammates in the World Baseball Classic. But who was better at baseball growing up?
Joshua: It was me. Richie was a little smaller. He always had the talent. He definitely worked hard and got a lot better. He was always good, but I think I was just bigger than he was growing up.
Richie: I'm obviously gonna say me. But I'm going to say I had the old advantage of having an older brother telling me what to do. It was like a cheat code pretty much to figuring things out.
MLB: Who got in trouble more often then?
Richie: This guy for sure!
Joshua: He only skated away because I got in trouble and he got to slide in the background. Whatever. He didn't seem that bad.
Richie: I just learned how to be smart about it.
Joshua: He just learned how to not get caught as much.
MLB: Richie, were you the tattletale then?
Richie: No, never been the tattletale! Never been the snitch.
MLB: Obviously, every teenager is a nightmare. And no parent will admit to having a favorite, but when you guys were teenagers, who was the favorite?
Joshua: It's this guy. Definitely this guy: the baby! They babied him. Anything I do, I get in way more trouble. He does the same thing, it's like 'Oh, it's all right. He's the baby!'
Richie: Perks of being the youngest!
Joshua: Shout out to grandma! I was grandma’s favorite! That counts for something.
MLB: What's the earliest memory the two of you have with each other?
Richie: I know this off the bat. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old and my grandfather took me to go watch him play T-ball. I just started crying so loudly because I wasn't able to play myself. So, they stopped bringing me to the games because they're like, 'This guy can't sit on the side and just watch his older brother.'
Joshua: My earliest memories? My dad, my uncle, and my cousins and him went to a Yankee game. And I remember him being super small. And he had a little baby Mets hat on and they wouldn't let him go into Yankee Stadium with the Mets hat.
MLB: This is a really difficult job with a lot of stress. What’s it like having a brother who has been through the same things you are going through?
Richie: Like I said before, it's a cheat code for me. Just being able to text him and see his viewpoint on things. Throughout our whole lives, just him being able to tell me what's going to come before I actually was able to get there was the cheat code for me.
Joshua: It's great for us, too. Because now for the last few years, we've been playing in similar divisions and now we're in MLB. So, I can call him like, 'Yo, what did you see on this guy? How's this guy look, what were you picking up?' We exchange scouting reports and everything. It's always nice. And he's a little smarter.
Richie: A lot smarter!
Joshua: I’ve recently bridged the gap! But you know, he'll learn some things and throw some things in there. He's always networking. So that helps.
MLB: OK, so now I have a few questions I want you to answer about your brother. Richie, what is the dumbest thing your brother has ever done?
Richie: I don't even remember the age. He had to be probably 10 or 11. And he's throwing a yo-yo around the circle, like, he's whipping this thing. There's like five people in the room and my grandma's in the kitchen making us lunch or whatever. And she screams, 'Let go of that thing! Let go of that thing! Drop that thing!" And this guy at max speed, lets go of it ... and it happens to hit me directly in my eye.
Joshua: Not directly in the eye! Close to the eye!
Richie: Directly in my eye. Luckily, I made it out. But that was just so dumb!
Joshua: He’s just being dramatic. He’s on the floor screaming, “Grandma, I’m blind!” And it hit next to the eye!
Richie: This guy made me almost blind!
Joshua: This guy was screaming on the floor, holding both eyes!
Richie: Like I said: The dumbest thing.
MLB: OK, Joshua, you can get back at him. What’s the dumbest thing Richie’s ever done?
Joshua: He doesn’t really have any. Ahh, I’m trying to think now.
Richie: Exactly! That answers your question! Next question.
MLB: Let's be nicer now. What is your favorite thing about your brother?
Richie: My favorite thing about my brother would just be the energy that he brings. Not only on the field, but just in life. The energy, the positive energy that he brings, he lights up a room when he gets there.
Josh: My brother, he's got good energy, too. He's always networking. So he always knows a guy for whatever we need. And he's the more emotionally intelligent one. He's always paying attention making sure everybody's all right.
MLB: Describe your brother in one word.
Joshua: I know the word that just came to his mind.
Richie: It’s not big! Big is not the word! I would say my word is twin.
Josh: My word for my brother is "confident." Because he thinks he’s six-four and he’s not.
Richie: That’s what makes him good!
MLB: OK, final question for you both. In addition to your outgoing personalities, you're both known as incredibly driven and hard working players. Is this something you credit your parents with?
Richie: For sure. I mean, our parents have instilled faith in us and on top of that hard work. Like, my dad used to work 11-12 hour shifts, and then he would come throw us batting practice. He pretty much showed us that the sacrifices that you make are going to more often than not help you be successful.
Joshua: Both my parents have strong work ethics. They sacrificed a lot for us. Never complained. Especially like my dad throwing batting practice after working 10 hours. My mom coming home at like eight o'clock and she gets straight to cooking and helping us with the homework. They didn't have a lot of free time.
It makes it easy for me to work because I'm like, "If they could do that for me, why can't I do that for myself?"