The Forreston 9: How nine cousins have powered one school's baseball and softball teams
FORRESTON — The name is Greenfield. But it feels like Greenfields, because on a Forreston diamond one Greenfield is almost always surrounded by another. Or two others.
Even on the end-of-season all-conference teams.
Nine Greenfield cousins from four Greenfield families have started on Forreston’s baseball and softball teams in the last three years alone.
“It makes it easy to fill out the lineup,” Forreston baseball coach Mike McClellan said. “And they are all just great kids: hard working and good students. They are the kind of kids that you love to coach. And they have all done extremely well.”
Darren Greenfield, an eighth-grader, is expected to join his older siblings and cousins in Forreston’s varsity lineup and eventually make it 10 Greenfields turned Cardinals. He will have a lot to live up to. The Greenfield name has helped Forreston (8-1, 3-0 in the NUIC South this year) win six consecutive NUIC baseball titles. The Cardinals are 82-5 in the conference since 2015.
Chase, the oldest, graduated in 2020. Ethan graduated last year. Both were three-year starters at pitcher and shortstop and made first-team all-conference.
This year, Dylan (a senior pitcher/infielder) and Owen (a junior shortstop/pitcher) are returning all-NUIC players, joined by Brendan, a freshman third baseman and pitcher. The trio bat No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 in the lineup.
“Growing up from our childhood, we have all wanted to do this one day,” Owen said. “We have always dreamed of playing together.”
Playing together has always been a reality as well as a future high school dream. Jenna and Hailey Greenfield start on the softball team for Forreston (7-1, 3-0 NUIC South this year) and Taylor made it three on last year’s team that finished 16-2 (10-0). Sam, a 2019 grad, was a senior on Forreston’s 2019 team that won a regional title.
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But before any of the Greenfields played together in high school, they all played together in their backyard.
“When I was a little kid, I always remember that,” said Owen, who had 12 RBIs in three games last week. “We had our dads join in. We would have close to full teams. We pick captains and go from there.”
“We always do it every year,” Dylan said. “We’re all playing and we’re all having fun. Usually the girls play, too. Our dads were big baseball guys. They know quite a bit about it. They would always be telling us new information. We would always be listening and learning from them.”
“We hung out every day when we were kids,” said Hailey, a junior catcher on the softball team. “We still do. We’re always together. It’s fun to be able to play with my family.”
Three of the families live on the same block in Forreston. Owen and Ethan live in nearby German Valley. Their dad is brothers with the dad of Dylan, Darren and Jenna. The other two dads are cousins.
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“It’s so cool,” Jenna, a sophomore outfielder, said. “We are all family and every game you go to someone is there playing. And we can practice whenever we are together.”
Most of the Greenfields also play basketball — Owen was all-conference in that, too, this winter — but baseball comes first in the Greenfield extended family.
“We all just like it,” Owen said. “It’s just that feeling. You get a good feeling about baseball. It’s nice weather out and you are just out there having fun with your teammates.”
For the younger cousins, having a Greenfield — or two — starring in the starting lineup alongside them makes it easier to start as a freshman. They not only have known a couple of their best teammates their whole lives, but they have been used to playing against older players.
“I never looked at my age being different; I just had fun playing against them. And wanted to win,” said Brendan, a freshman. “The (family) games were always fun and competitive. We’d have some arguments every once in awhile, but they were always fun.
“And watching my cousins play has been fun. I always thought it would be cool to join them. Watching them succeed, I just grew up in it. It helps knowing people on the team that I’m not in the same grade with. And being able to play with them now after building this chemistry is fun.”
The Greenfield fun should continue for at least four more years. Darren, as the youngest, will eventually finish playing without another Greenfield in the lineup next to him. But there will still be Greenfields supporting him.
“That will definitely be different,” Dylan said. “But I will still be around after I graduate, so I will get to watch him grow up and play high school ball.”
“We have each other’s backs,” Owen added.
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In the backyard.
On the Forreston diamond.
Playing baseball, softball. Even whiffle ball.
And also backing each other just as a family.
“We’ve always grown up, all of us, interested in baseball and softball,” Dylan said. “We definitely have a bond through baseball. It makes it better, for both family and baseball.”
“We grew up playing together in our backyard,” said Taylor, a softball first baseman who graduated last year. “I loved it. But we were always close, even before that.”
Matt Trowbridge is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MattTrowbridge. Sign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at rrstar.com.