Zack Lin sizes up the pitch, swings and cranks a ground single to center field.
He’s impatient to get home, so he steals second base. He bolts for third base when the shortstop can’t handle the throw. A moment later, the senior wheels around to score while his twin brother, Spencer, cheers from the cheap seats during the Oak Park High baseball team’s 6-1 win against visiting Foothill Tech on April 9.
Zack Lin, who is 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, starts at second base and throws out of the bullpen for the Eagles.
Spencer Lin, who was born two minutes after Zack, is a 5-foot-8, 165-pound senior right fielder for Agoura.
They grew up playing baseball and basketball together, but on Monday, Spencer got to watch Zack play for the first time in high school. Spencer, whose Agoura practice ended early due to the heat, picked a great game to attend— Zack went 3-for-3 with a walk, two steals and two runs scored.
“I love it,” Spencer said. “A parent told me Zack is the heart and soul of this team, which is a reason why they’re doing well.”
Growing up, Spencer was always the sports star. He scored 50 points in a sixth grade AYBA basketball championship game. In his first flag football game, Spencer ran for a long touchdown. In his first fall baseball game after his senior football season, Spencer blasted the first pitch he saw for a home run.
It’s not easy growing up in the shadow of a twin brother.
“For me, it was hard because he was always better,” Zack said. “I always resented him growing up. This year, our relationship has never been better.”
Attending different high schools was beneficial for both young men.
Spencer is a star quarterback and punter for the Chargers’ foot- ball team. The Canyon League MVP threw for 2,594 yards with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 356 rushing yards and six scores on the ground this season. He will continue playing football at Cal Lutheran.
Zack is enjoying a breakout senior season on the baseball diamond. At press time, the captain led the Eagles in steals (14), hits (18) and runs (15), and he’s among clubhouse leaders in batting average (.346) and RBI (10). He’s bound for Santa Barbara City College.
“It’s great that they both have their own identity,” said Scott Lin, the father of the twins. “Zack has grown up in Spencer’s shadow, which was really hard for him. As a parent, it’s hard to see one kid always get discouraged because it’s Spencer this and Spencer that.
“This year, Zack worked hard every day. He’s shining right now. It makes me proud, both his mom and me, to see what he’s become.”
Zack is an inspiring athlete.
He is legally blind in his left eye. He was born with amblyopia, or the loss of central vision unrelated to eye health. Treatment works for most children with amblyopia, but Zack’s vision never improved.
He doesn’t think of his blindness as a disability.
And why should he?
“To me, you’re only supposed to see out of one eye,” Zack said. “Even in dreams, I can only see out of one eye.
“It’s what I know,” he says with a carefree shrug. “It is what it is.”
Zack, who threw a one-hitter against Camarillo as a freshman, takes it all in stride. He and Oak Park head coach David Kinberg, who wears glasses, share a joke from the dugout: If they can see a play, then the umpire should, too.
Scott Lin, who played baseball at Calabasas High, is in awe of his son.
“He’s hitting 85 mile-per-hour fastballs with one eye,” Scott said. “He shouldn’t be able to do that. . . .
“He never used it as an excuse. And he inspires me every day.”
Zack dances to the beat of his own drum.
“I don’t think I’ve been serious a day in my life,” he said.
Zack used Spencer’s school ID to attend a handful of Agoura football games in the fall.
“If they just looked at the name, they’d know he was playing quarterback,” Zack said.
This spring, he faced Simi Valley’s Owen Sharts, who will likely be drafted into Major League Baseball. Sharts has the “best curveball I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Zack said. Sharts hit a home run off Zack, but it’s all good.
“I thought it was cool,” Zack said. “I said to myself, ‘I helped this kid get drafted.’”
Jonah Scott, an Oak Park pitcher committed to MIT, said Zack is always loose.
“That’s just how he plays,” Scott said. “He’s the type of guy that you know you’re going to be laughing at some point when you’re around him.”
Spencer, who wears glasses in baseball and contacts in football, admitted that he participated in two football practices without his contacts.
“See a spot. Throw it at the spot,” Spencer said with a laugh.
He wore contacts while tossing 13 touchdown strikes to junior wide receiver Nico Della Ripa, who currently patrols left field for the Charger baseball team.
“We were always on the same page in football,” Della Ripa said. “He always knows when to throw it to me.”
Spencer earned All-CIF, Ventura County and league honors in football.
The oldest Lin brother, Ryan, a senior at the University of Arizona, played four years of baseball at Oak Park. Their mom, Anne, played high school softball in Florida.
The Lin twins speak highly of each other. They weren’t meant to share the spotlight, but they excel on their own and appreciate each other from a distance—even if their rooms are 5 feet apart.
“It’s great seeing all the kids cheering for him,” Spencer said. “He’s having the time of his life. He’s showing that hard work and dedication are the only ways to succeed.”
“Watching Spencer dominate is really fun,” Zack said. “I like to watch him do well—I didn’t when I was younger.
“No one’s comparing us. We do our own thing.”
Email sports editor Eliav Appelbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know the brothers
Zack Lin, 18, plays baseball at Oak Park High. His twin brother, Spencer, plays baseball and football at Agoura. Zack, a senior second baseman and right-handed pitcher, leads the Eagles in steals, hits and runs while sporting a .346 batting average. Spencer roams right field in baseball, and he was Canyon League MVP as quarterback for the Charger football squad.
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Athletes: Matt Kemp and José Altuve
Restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
Band: The Script
Vacation spots: The Bahamas and Hawaii
Band: Green Day
TV show: “Gotham”
Movies: “Invincible” and “The Longest Yard”
Athlete: Peyton Manning
Destination: New York City