Amherst brothers Justin and Jamie Carey living professional baseball life with independent Bakersfield Train Robbers

  • Amherst’s Jamie Carey is playing independent baseball with the Bakersfield Train Robbers with his brother Justin Carey. COURTESY NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE


  • Justin Carey and his brother Jamie Carey were three-sport athletes at Amherst Regional. COURTESY NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE

  • Amherst’s Jamie Carey is playing independent baseball with the Bakersfield Train Robbers with his brother Justin Carey. COURTESY NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE

  • Amherst’s Justin Carey is playing independent baseball with the Bakersfield Train Robbers with his brother Jamie Carey. COURTESY NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE

Staff Intern
Monday, July 19, 2021

Two boys growing up in the same house, competing each and every day to be better than the other, were inspired to reach heights that only a few could ever achieve: to play professional baseball.

That would be the story surrounding Amherst’s Justin and Jamie Carey. They discovered baseball from their father, who had been a fan of the sport his entire life, around the age of 4. While many don’t find their true passion until around the time they graduate college or even later, the Carey brothers’ passion was in baseball from the very first catch in their gloves.

“It came at a very early age,” Justin Carey explained. “It wasn’t really forced, but our dad was really into it, and we started playing at a young age. He would get home from work and all we wanted to do was get outside and throw the ball around and have him pitch to us. It’s something we fell in love with. Sports was always just that ‘get away from everything’ for us.”

Being brothers and having similar aspirations created an appetite for competition and superiority. Whether it was in front of the TV with controllers in hand, or on the makeshift Wiffle ball field in their backyard, they both wanted to be the best.

“We were very competitive with each other growing up,” Justin said. “Neither one of us wanted to lose to each other whether it be video games, chess, or whatever game we were playing. I know it sounds cliché but that’s the truth. There’s been controllers shattered playing PlayStation when one of us beats the other, or in the backyard we’re trying to strike each other out in Wiffle ball. But I think it was all understood at the same time. It’s tough love all the time. I’m rarely going to give (Jamie) credit for something but deep down we know that we want each other to succeed.”

That competitive desire carried over onto the baseball field.

“I honestly think you need that (drive) to get to this point,” Justin said. “You need to be competitive like that in order to move up the ranks. Every level you get to, more and more people are similar to you or better than you so if you are OK and complacent then that doesn’t get you too far.”

To be better than the rest, Justin and Jamie needed to make sacrifices others wouldn’t. Balancing the enjoyment of childhood and the focus on achieving goals was a choice not easily made, but one that had to be.

“A lot of late nights and early mornings,” Jamie said. “You kind of work yourself to a point as a competitor where you feel like you owe it to yourself to see how far you can go with it. Once you get to that point in college where you’re getting phone calls, you feel like there’s an opportunity that you can’t pass up since you don’t know where it’ll lead you to.”

In high school, Justin and Jamie were three-sport athletes at Amherst Regional, playing football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Rather than joining travel programs, they focused their efforts on school ball, where they hoped their talents would attract enough attention from scouts.

“Most people take the travel ball route, or AAU route but we kind of just let the game come to us,” Jamie said. “We never really had the money to go get all of that exposure, so we had to work extra hard in the local area and let the athleticism play.”

Justin and Jamie continued their collegiate careers at New England College. This past spring, they received their first call to play in spring training for the Tucson Saguaros, a professional team in the Pecos League, an independent baseball league.

“They had been calling me and Justin for a couple years and we went out there for a week of spring training and it ended up not working out,” Jamie said. “Literally half an hour after that ordeal happened, we were thinking about heading home, then we got a phone call saying, ‘come over to Bakersfield, you guys are exactly the kind of players we need over here.’ They were short-staffed, they had about 18 or 19 guys. The manager over here likes to keep a nice, tightly knit team and a smaller roster and we fit the equation pretty well.”

After living in the New England area their entire lives up until that point, they accepted the challenge to move across the country to Bakersfield, Calif., leaving their family and friends behind for the summer.

“It was certainly tough,” Justin said. “I just finished my master’s in sport management, and I was thinking of just starting my real life and then this opportunity came about. It was a lot of back-and-forth for me but at the end of the day, as far as me growing as a person and having this opportunity to do it with my brother, I think at the end of the day there was only one option and that was to come out here. I talked to my friends, family, and girlfriend and they have all been so supportive.”

The Bakersfield Train Robbers have dominated the Pecos League so far this season, currently holding the best record in the league at 17-3, making the Carey brothers’ decision to chase their dream that much sweeter.

“The experience has been unreal and winning helps,” Jamie said. “Looking around the field and seeing a bunch of other guys that are trying to win a ballgame as well, you can’t really beat that. There are guys on this team that’ll come into the locker room that are so grateful to come from a losing franchise to a winning franchise saying this is the best team they’ve ever played on. Luckily for guys like us we’ve played in championships before, we know what it takes to win, so bringing that attitude to the field and watching it rub off on other guys is what it’s all about.”