SAN FRANCISCO — Long before the dream actually became a reality, San Francisco's Barry Zito and Detroit's Justin Verlander were just like any other young pitcher who harbored dreams of one day starting a Game 1 in the World Series. Zito learned the game growing up in Southern California, attended University of San Diego High School and eventually pitched for USC's storied college program. Verlander, meanwhile, grew up in Virginia, pitched at Goochland High School and went on to pitch at Old Dominion. He was such a big star in the Richmond area that the Times-Dispatch plans to run a special section on him this Sunday.
Now the two will face off in Wednesday night's Game 1 of the World Series here at AT&T Park, a contrast in styles as our own Les Carpenter writes. Not only do the two reside in different neighborhoods on the radar gun, but their experiences and demeanor are different. The laidback Zito owns a World Series ring from 2010 but wasn't on the team's roster when the Giants won it. The more intense Verlander started Game 1 of the 2006 World Series but was pummeled by Albert Pujols and Co. and shared in the disappointment when the Tigers were defeated in five games by the Cardinals.
But no matter the disparate paths they took to get here, both are in the spotlight as the first pitchers to take the mound for their respective teams. USA Today has a full gallery of World Series players dreaming big in Little League and high school, including a shot of Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks that breaks all sorts of records on the precocious meter.
Big BLS H/N: Junior Baseball