The competitions would last for hours, even as the games and locations changed.
Paul and Luke Orbon grew up as the oldest of four kids in New Hyde Park, and no matter what the season was, they were competing.
They’d play baseball at the church fields across the street, for hours, with younger Luke constantly fighting to keep up with older brother Paul, who was quieter than his sibling but no less eager to succeed.
After baseball was done, they’d come home and play stickball as well, and then maybe jump in the pool for some aquatic basketball action. Then maybe some invented game like slap ball inside Paul Sr. and Andrea’s house.
No matter who won or lost, there were going to be fights and competition at all times.
“He’s a tough kid, never backed down from anything I threw at him,” Paul said admiringly.
“He always was helping me no matter what we did,” Luke chimed in.
The two Orbons took very different paths to get where they are now, but both have become standouts on the St. John’s University baseball team.
Despite both battling injuries the first few years of their careers, each broke out with a fantastic 2023, in helping the Red Storm to a 28-25 mark.
Paul, a rising senior outfielder, batted .338 in 41 games this spring, with three home runs and 33 RBIs.
Luke, who’ll be a junior next season, played both infield and outfield while hitting .341 in 36 games, with 27 RBI and a .417 slugging percentage.
Together, they’re carrying on the family tradition on the diamond, as Paul Sr. played two seasons at Columbia University.
“They have a sibling rivalry that’s not a bad thing at all,” said St. John’s head coach Mike Hampton (not the former Mets pitcher). “They’ve both improved a lot and if we can just keep them both healthy for a full season, we’ll really have something great.”
Even though the Orbon boys have landed at the same place, their paths to get here were quite different.
Paul was a standout in youth league ball in New Hyde Park, and when it came to high school, he opted for the powerhouse Chaminade program, which has been outstanding for decades under legendary coach Mike Pienkos.
“I knew their academics were great and competitively their baseball program is always so strong, and I liked the idea of wearing a suit and tie every day,” Paul recalled. “It was really tough at first, but it was a great experience.”
After helping Chaminade to some of their now-20 CHSAA championships, Paul struggled to attract Division I college attention, partly due to needing surgery on his hip his senior year.
Without many D-1 offers, he was set to attend Ohio State for college but late in the summer of 2019, right before Paul was to enroll, his Next Level amateur coach Shaun Manning was able to attract St. John’s attention.
Then-coach Ed Blankmeyer offered Paul, a 6-foot-1, 205 pound kid, a chance to walk on to the team, and Paul pounced.
“I literally had deposits in to go to school at both places for a little while,” Paul said. “Even when I got to St. John’s, I had no guarantees. They could have cut me at any time so that whole fall I knew I had to play well.
“Then they finally told me I was getting a scholarship,” Paul said, “and COVID happened.”
Luke’s path to the Queens school was much different.
Instead of following his brother to Chaminade, the 6-foot, 210-pounder stayed and played for New Hyde Park (“I had no interest in wearing a suit and tie every day,” he laughed) and starred for five years at his hometown school, eventually being listed as the No. 29 recruit in all of New York State by the baseball recruiting site Perfect Game.
Luke committed to St. John’s very early, in his sophomore year of high school, before Paul had even decided to go there.
“We’ve always been St. John’s fans and Coach Blankmeyer is a historic coach, and this is the best baseball program around,” Luke said. “And then when it turned out I could play with my brother, that was so great.”
Paul and Luke are pretty inseparable off the field too; they live together with two teammates near campus (“we’re usually fighting about stupid stuff like keeping the apartment clean,” Luke said), and this summer are both doing internships they love.
Paul is working for Major League Baseball in their content department, learning data insertion and helping make content for MLB.TV, while Luke is on Wall Street interning for a brokerage agency, learning trading.
“Baseball and trading go hand in hand,” Luke said. “In both, the more you help your teammates, you’re going to win. Even if you’re not making money for yourself, you can help others.
“Also everyone is energetic and loud in both places!”
Both hope to improve on their strong seasons in 2024, with Paul and Luke agreeing they need to get their power numbers up, and Coach Hampton wanting both to be better baserunners and steal more bases.
“This (past) season showed me what I can do if I’m healthy, and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Paul said. “Just need to keep getting better, and I know Luke is going to keep pushing me, too.”
The brothers wouldn’t have it any other way.