Like it or not, Ty, Mickey, Nolan and Will Fadness never got to pick a favorite sport growing up. From the day they were born, one game would be linked with the quartet for life.
"Mickey was named after Mickey Mantle, Ty was named after Ty Cobb, Nolan was named after Nolan Ryan and I was named after Will Clark," Eau Claire Express catcher Will Fadness said. "Those three have Hall of Famer names and I don't, but he deserves to be in there."
More than two decades later, the Fadness boys are four of the best ballplayers to come up through the Eau Claire ranks. For the brothers, baseball is second nature, thanks to their father, Rob Fadness, who raised his children on the diamond and in the dugouts.
"After college, he never stopped playing," Eau Claire Cavaliers outfielder Ty Fadness said. "He played for the Hayward Hawks, the Eau Claire Pioneers, a couple Chippewa River Baseball League teams, I think, and eventually wound up on the Cavs."
"As we were growing up and we were on the Cavs, that's kind of the reason why we kind of got hooked on to baseball."
"Our punishments weren't going to get sent to our bedrooms," Oshkosh Giants second baseman Mickey Fadness said. "They were we couldn't go to the Cavs game. We were always on our best behavior the day that they played so we could come down to Carson Park."
This summer, oldest brother Ty is following in Dad's footsteps again, playing his seventh season with the Eau Claire Cavaliers. Meanwhile, middle child Nolan is starring for the Eau Claire Express, leading the team in batting and runs scored. And after wrapping up his high school career as the Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year, Will, the youngest, just signed on to play for the Express Monday.
"I've had a great time playing," Express outfielder Nolan Fadness said. "Just being able to succeed at that level shows that, you know, just because we play Division III baseball doesn't mean we're not good."
"As the oldest brother, I'm always going to want them to do best," Ty Fadness said. "I want them to succeed more than I have. I'm always there if they need anything. I'm going to help them as much as I can."
Missing from home is Mickey, who is spending the summer playing for the Oshkosh Giants. Come Spetember, though, he won't be the odd man out, as he and Nolan will start preparing for the spring season with the UW-Oshkosh baseball team.
"I'm going to be really excited, because it's the first season I'm going to be back 100 percent healthy," Mickey Fadness said. "I just got to lay it all on the line because it's my fifth year and it's for sure my last year. I got to get the best out of Nolan, too, because it's his junior year. It's a big year for him."
Instead of jewelry or an old keepsake, chalk lines and the crack of a bat are the Fadness' family heirloom. From a father to his four sons, baseball brings the family together, now and in the future.
"Growing up, it was either my dad or my mom with one of us," Ty Fadness said. "We just spent a lot of road trips with together, and we really can't thank her enough for everything she's done for us."
But like any regular family, there's still a few disagreements.
"Still, even now, me and Will never lose," Ty Fadness said.
"It's incredible," Will Fadness said.
"We'll even play Monopoly and it gets competitive," Nolan Fadness said.
"That's funny, because Will quit the last time we played," Mickey Fadness said.
One thing is certain - expect to see the Fadness four on the diamond for at least a few more summers.
"I think a dream of ours is someday to have a team we put together ourselves and all four of us are on it and maybe a couple of our cousins, too, and some other close friends from around the area," Ty Fadness said.
"That would be kind of the ultimate dream for us."