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All in the family

American Legion baseball in the Lehigh Valley has an interesting phenomenon in that both Parkland and Emmaus high school teams are split into two separate teams based on exactly where in the district the players live. That sets up situations where high school teammates are facing each other in games and nowhere was it more interesting than when North and South Parkland met in the Region 2 playoffs as they were vying for a spot in the state tournament.

Family and friends of players who normally all sit together at high school games found themselves choosing up sides. In this case the North Parkland contingent was seated along the first base side of Quakertown Memorial Stadium, while the South Parkland fans were along the third base side.

There was one pair of fans, though, who sat directly behind home plate. Not because there were no seats remaining, but because their loyalty was divided.

The parents of Joe and Will Algard have had to deal with this since Will Algard took over as the coach of the South Parkland team after playing and coaching for North Parkland. Meanwhile, younger brother Joe is a member of the North Parkland Buffaloes, playing his last season of Legion baseball.

Will coached his Trojans team to a win in the game, eliminating the Buffaloes from the tournament. When the two brothers met on the field following the game, Will had a simple message.

“I just gave him a hug and told him that I love him,” Will Algard said. “He’s been a great player for them for a long time and I hate to see it end like that. I have a lot of respect for what he has done and he’s a great baseball player.”

Earlier in the day, the two went through their usual routine on a day featuring a matchup of the two teams. Brotherly love was not evident. Mom and Dad talked about times when the two are going against each other and refuse to talk before the game and will not even drive to the game together.

“We passed in the hallway multiple times at home, but didn’t speak to each other. We drove in separate cars,” said Joe Algard. “We are all friends after the game of course, but before and during, absolutely not.”

With Joe Algard using up his eligibility this season, the two could be reunited in a dugout in the future. Coaching is not out of the question for Joe and a spot on his brother’s staff could be a possibility. He could also follow in his brother’s footsteps and continue the rivalry by joining the coaching staff for North Parkland under longtime head coach Terry Stout, who gave Will Algard his first coaching opportunity.

“Multiple organizations have reached out to me, so it (coaching) is a definite possibility in my future,” said Joe Algard. “Both North and South have asked about it and it is something that I will have to think about.”

Meanwhile, another pair of brothers were playing with each other as members of South Parkland and made big contributions throughout the season and in the regional matchup.

Kurt and Luke Meehan both contributed on the field for the Trojans. Luke Meehan got the start on the mound and was victimized by some fielding miscues behind him that allowed eight unearned runs to score in his 3 2/3 innings of work. At the plate, he reached base all six times he batted with four hits and two walks, driving in three runs, the last of which was the game-winner in the eighth inning.

Kurt Meehan was 0-for-4 at the plate, but came on in relief of his brother and threw 3 1/3 innings, giving up just one unearned run.

Both brothers talked first about the contributions that their teammates made in the game and about how they just wanted to help the team when they took to the field. Luke Meehan talked about how important it was for the guys in front of him to get on base and minimized the errors behind him while he was on the mound. Kurt Meehan talked about the defense picking him up while he was on the mound and how the hitters behind him did their job to move him around the bases when he opened the eighth with a walk.

“It’s pretty special getting to play together,” said Luke Meehan about being on the same field with his brother. “We have always done things together and we have a common bond over baseball and getting to play together makes that even better.”

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Will Algard (left) took over as South Parkland head coach two years ago after starting his coaching career as an assistant at North Parkland, where he played.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Luke Meehan crosses home plate during a Region 2 playoff game.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Kurt Meehan reached base six times, had four hits, including the game-winner, and drove in three runs in a Region 2 playoff win over North Parkland.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB North Parkland's Joe Algard could follow in his brothers footsteps and get into baseball coaching.