Pioneers seeing double the leadership

Twin seniors Doug and Mike Bieber are the captains of the Frankford baseball team this year. JOE MASON / TIMES PHOTO

There’s very little Mike and Doug Bieber don’t do together.

The twin brothers on the Frankford High School baseball team have been best friends their entire lives.

They are both three-sport athletes, playing soccer and bowling as well as being stars on the baseball team.

They hang out, play video games and up until recently, shared a room.

They’re also learning how to be leaders on a young team.

Frankford had a lineup full of returning starters last year, but the Pioneers played together for only a few practices before coronavirus wiped out the season.

It was a disaster for the seniors who never got to put on a Frankford uniform again, but it was also bad for the younger players who didn’t get to learn from the older guys.

This year, Mike is the ace pitcher for Frankford while Doug is the starting catcher. They have no problem working together, and when the situation calls for it, Doug can go to the mound and Mike can go behind the plate.

But the biggest thing the Port Richmond residents bring to the team is leadership.

“You never know because they didn’t get a chance to learn how to be Frankford baseball leaders, but they’re doing an incredible job,” Frankford coach Juan Namnun said of his captains. “They’re lead-by-example type of leaders. The other guys just follow them.”

The best example of that was earlier in preseason when the Pioneers were preparing for the season.

One of the players brought his younger brother to the field, and he had a medical emergency and collapsed. Namnun went over to help the youngster as an ambulance arrived.

“They knew it was a bad situation, so they took the other guys and started running drills without me having to say anything,” Namnun said. “They kept everyone calm. I was over with the child, and just doing whatever I can do, they make sure everything was handled. The child was OK, he’s fine, and after that, I was driving home and I just thought about what great leaders they both are. They handled that situation perfectly.”

They’re also pretty good baseball players.

Mike leads off for the Pioneers and plays infield unless his brother is catching, then he moves behind the plate.

Doug hits second, and has become a great defensive catcher, and more importantly, a guy who puts together gameplans with Namnun for the pitchers.

“He calls a great game,” Mike said after making a few jokes about his brother. “He knows what I want to do. Sometimes we’ll disagree, but I’ll do what he wants. He’s the catcher. But it’s rare. We usually are on the (same page).”

“It’s funny because with (Mike), I don’t have to even put up signs,” Doug said. “It’s the twin thing. I always know what he’s thinking and he always knows what I’m thinking. We have fun playing together. We’ve been doing everything together our whole lives.”

It’s fun because they’re doing it together.

But it’s also fun because they are now the leaders on the Frankford baseball team.

The Pioneers have had one of the top programs in the area, and are always a huge threat to win the Public League championship.

This isn’t a typical Public League season, though.

Frankford didn’t play its first game until two weeks ago, when the Pioneers usually have more than 10 games under their belts.

They didn’t enjoy their usual spring training trip to Florida, they didn’t have a chance to learn from the stars who were slated to start last year and they haven’t had a lot of time to work together.

“We haven’t played a clean game yet, but we’re getting better,” Mike said. “We are getting better, but we have a lot to improve on. I think we’ll do it. We’re learning a lot, we’re playing better, together. I think we’ll just continue to get better.”

“The goal is the championship, but we know we have to work to get there,” Doug said. “I think if you play for Frankford, your goal is to win the championship because of all the great teams we had, that’s what our goal is. I think we can do it if we work together and try to get better.”

Next year, the boys will be doing the same thing, but it’s unclear if they’ll still be together.

Both are enlisting in the Navy. They come from a Navy family, and it’s something they’re very much looking forward to.

“Our cousin is there, and she said it’s a lot like high school in that you make new friends and you learn a lot,” Doug said. “It’s going to be fun. We’re doing it together. We’ve done everything together.”

“I think it helps that we’re together,” Mike said. “We’ve done everything together. We’re best friends. We’re always there for each other, so I think going to the Navy together will be a great move for us.”

Until they leave in August, they’ll do their best to have fun with each other and the Pioneers.

“I think we’ll spend a lot of time down the shore, our grandmom has a house in Wildwood,” Mike said. “We’ll be down there a lot, and we’re going to Disney.”

“We didn’t do Disney this year with (the baseball team), but we’re going together, and our girlfriends and friends,” Doug said. “We’ll have fun. But we really want to have a great baseball season first. I’m excited about baseball, graduating and everything else. I think we’ll have a great summer.”