Photo by Dan Brannan
Casey Fair, 18, left, is a freshman pitcher for the Illinois College baseball team in Jacksonville; brother Chris, 28, of Bethalto, is an instructor at Turn 2 in Collinsville.
BETHALTO – The scent of baseball is in the air this week and for two local brothers - Chris and Casey Fair – that spring fever never ends.
Chris, 28, lives in Bethalto and his life revolves around baseball, working as an instructor at Turn 2 in Collinsville. Casey, 18, is a freshman pitcher for the Illinois College baseball team in Jacksonville.
The St. Louis Cardinals started spring training workouts this week in Jupiter, Fla., and baseball fever is only beginning around the region.
Casey Fair is consumed with the excitement of a new baseball season.
“This means the sport you work your whole life for is here,” he said. “I am definitely excited about being a freshman on the Illinois College pitching staff.”
Chris Fair said his love affair with baseball began when he was a young child.
“My dad noticed I had an itch to play more than recreation ball and he said if I was really serious we will get you on a Select Team and do it the right way,” he said.
Since last September, Chris has been working with youth and their batting, preparing for the spring.
“As the snow starts melting and it gets a little bit warmer you feel the excitement of working so hard in the off season to be ready to go out and do it,” he said. “My excitement is for the people I am working with so they can see the fruits of their labor.”
Chris was a baseball star at Civic Memorial High School and played at Illinois College as an outfielder.
Casey, 18, was a standout left-handed pitcher for Civic Memorial and he made the Illinois College Florida travel team as a freshman.
“I always liked Illinois College,” Casey said. “I chased foul balls for four years while Chris was playing there. I wanted to be my own person, but I loved Illinois College and wanted to go there.”
On Feb. 28, Casey will depart for Fort Meyers, Fla., with the Illinois College travel team.
There are many keys to successful hitting but Chris believes much of that is the result of practice.
“To me it is not thinking,” Chris Fair said. “As a hitter you have to prepare so much before you get to the plate. You have to get the mechanics of the swing down, and then the muscle memory in the box takes care of the rest.”
Chris is more known for a catch in his Civic Memorial High baseball career, although he had a 13-game hitting streak his senior year and hit over .300. The Eagles were 28-9 Chris’ senior year.
“We got to the sectional ranked fourth and played the No. 1 team,” he said. “I made a game-winning diving catch. I dove and caught it and the winning run was on second base.”
Chris didn’t see Casey play baseball until he was out of college because he was so busy with his own games. Since that time, he has been more than a brother and served as a mentor for Casey on and off the field.
“When you break it down, we come from two completely different styles,” Chris said. “He is left-handed and a pitcher and I was right-handed, a hitter and more a position player. I am very low-key and reserved. I try to give him my life experience, understanding his view may be a little different. I try to do anything that helps.”
Casey said he wears his emotions on his sleeve. The younger Fair brother describes Chris as a “great coach.”
“It has been his calling from day on,” Casey said of his brother as a coach and teacher.
Chris had a teaching experience at Mickey Owen Baseball School and it led him to Turn 2, where he is director of baseball. Chris has coached the Bethalto Junior Legion team the past four years.
Both Fair brothers aspire to stay in baseball the rest of their lives in one form or another.
“I want to start out coaching after I finish playing, but maybe do some in the front office part of baseball,” Casey said. “I love the movie ‘Money Ball’ with Brad Pitt. “
Chris Fair wants to continue to make an impact on young baseball players and maybe expand that to beyond the region.
“I have been lucky to make it a career in baseball,” Chris Fair said. “Not many get to have a career in baseball. I love my work.”