- - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Corban Joseph, 29, figured his professional baseball career was finished.

And if it was, he had the memory of those games and six at-bats with the Yankees in 2013.

After playing last season in the minor leagues with the Nationals, the infielder from Tennessee was without a job when the year began.



“I thought it was all over,” he said.

But he signed a minor league free agent deal with the Orioles on Feb. 14,was called up to Baltimore from the Double-A Bowie Baysox last week.

The story got even better at Nationals Park on Tuesday, as Joseph and his brother Caleb — a catcher for the Orioles — were teammates at the major league level for the first time. They became the first brothers to suit up for the Orioles since Cal Ripken Jr. and Billy Ripken in 1996.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

The memorable night came after they combined to play in 1,675 minor league contests the last 10 years, including 991 by Corban. Corban was third in hitting at .336 in the Eastern League when he was summoned from Bowie.

“It has been a whirlwind of events for me the last two or three years,” said Corban, standing in a hallway in the visitor’s clubhouse at Nationals Park. “I am extremely excited and blessed to be here.”

Among those in the stands Tuesday was Corban’s wife and their 4-year-old daughter. The 1-year-old other daughter she was a little much to handle with all of the excitement and went back to Tennessee with her grandparents.

And the brothers almost fueled an Orioles win.

Caleb Joseph, who started at catcher, walked to load the bases and that brought up Corban Joseph as a pinch-hitter in the sixth. He grounded into a force play as Danny Valencia scored to give Baltimore a 6-5 lead. But the Nationals came back to win 9-7 as the Orioles fell to 20-51 this year.

The chance to play in the majors together almost didn’t happen.

Caleb Joseph has been one of the regular catchers for years for the Orioles but was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk after a slow start at the plate. He was still in Norfolk when Corban Joseph was called up to the Orioles on June 15.

“If I would have just taken care of business he would have been up here and we would have done it earlier,” said Caleb, who turned 32 Monday. “He has a family, too, two young girls, and he was grinding it out five years in between (big league) appearances. He didn’t give up. I was so excited and so proud of his perseverance.”

But the story had a happy ending when Caleb was called up from Triple-A Norfolk before Tuesday’s game.

“His makeup and work ethic are two qualities that make him special,” Orioles director of player development Brian Graham wrote in e-mail to The Times. “Both he and Caleb have special makeup. Their parents should be proud.”

Faith is important to both players, as they grew up attending a Protestant church in Tennessee. They were teammates briefly in 2016 with Triple-A Norfolk but before that had not been on the same time since high school 13 years ago.

“Everyone has a different story on how they made it up. The majority of guys don’t make it,” Corban said.

Corban Joseph was drafted in the fourth round by the Yankees out of Franklin High near Nashville in 2008 while Caleb Joseph was selected in the seventh round by the Orioles out of Division I Lipscomb that same year.

Last season, Corban Joseph was in spring training with the Nationals.

“The Nationals offered a pretty good deal,” he said. “I felt I had a pretty good shot of competing for a job over there. Then I ended up getting sent to Triple-A (to start 2017). I started out pretty hot but I just fell off a little bit and then got sent down to Double-A and got to play every day.”

While with Double-A he played for manager Matt LeCroy, a former bullpen coach for the Nationals. He hit .231 in 34 games for Triple-A Syracuse and .299 in 55 games for Double-A Harrisburg.

“LeCroy down there is such a great guy,” Corban Joseph said. “It was a really cool experience being the older guy and trying to be a leader in the clubhouse. I never had that opportunity till last year. I tried to help those guys anyway I could.”

Before Wednesday’s, Corban was sent back to Double-A Bowie to make room for pitcher Andrew Cashner, slated to start against the Nationals on Wednesday. Corban was 1-for-9 in four games with the Orioles at the plate this month.

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