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From birth, twins Nolan, Ryan destined for baseball

by MIKE BROWN Tulsa World on April 30, 2013 10:50 AM

TULSA, Okla. — Glenpool’s pitching McCutcheon twins almost had to be baseball players, given the first names their parents gave them.

Nolan and Ryan McCutcheon were born — in that order -— about two minutes apart on March 14, 1995.

Today, 18 years later, the 6-foot-3 seniors are dual standouts for the Warriors.

Their father, Steve McCutcheon, a former high school and junior college baseball player, had the idea of naming them after his idol growing up -— former pitching great and Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan.

“We spent nine months and couldn’t come up with anything suitable,” Steve McCutcheon said. “And then I got to thinking at work one day. ‘Nolan’s a good first name, and Ryan’s a good first name, and I like Nolan Ryan, so why not?’”

Their mother, Ann, also a former athlete who played a year of tennis at Oral Roberts University, her college alma mater, loved the idea. “I thought it was great,” she said. “I looked up the names and both meant several good things. They aren’t quite rhyming, but they do end in the same syllable. Others in the family thought it was cheesy, but everybody loves it now.”

So do the twins, although they come in for ribbing at times for looking so much alike.

“We’ve been asked if we were brothers,” Nolan McCutcheon said. “Some people really don’t know, and we’re like ‘duh.’”

Nolan, a left-handed pitcher who has signed with the University of Arkansas, is 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings. He’s also batting .314, with one homer and 10 RBIs.

Ryan, a right-handed pitcher and third baseman, is mulling junior college offers. He’s 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 21 innings while batting .265.

Both dreamed of playing baseball at the next level.

“It’s what they’ve wanted and worked for ever since they were little, playing competitive ball and going to summer camps,” Ann McCutcheon said. “Everything’s been geared toward giving them opportunities to be seen by the right people.”

Both throw in the 88- to 91-mph range. Recruiters like Nolan’s smooth delivery, and the fact that he’s a lefty partially accounts for the slightly greater attention he receives than his brother. However, Ryan has had Division I interest from Baylor, Maryland and West Virginia.

Glenpool coach Brandon Earp told the Tulsa World that the twins are ultra-competitive.

“They’re like brothers fighting in the backyard,” he said. “If one gets a hit and the other doesn’t, there’s definite tension in the dugout. They’re always comparing batting averages and ERAs. It’s almost comical at times.”

Ryan said the brothers are close. “Sure, we’re competitive with each other because we both want to be the best. But I’m proud of the things he does.”

The twins aren’t into pranking others by pretending to be one another. But Ryan admitted he once used his brother’s ID to get into the movies to see “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Earp said he couldn’t tell them apart when they were younger.

“If I was talking to one, I’d have to throw him a ball and see which hand he used to throw it back to know which one he was,” Earp said.

Besides throwing from opposite sides, the brothers have other differences owing to being so-called “mirror twins.”

Identical twins are created when a single fertilized egg divides into two embryos, meaning both offspring will have identical DNA. According to research, about 10 million pairs exist worldwide. In about one fourth of those cases, the separate embryos develop reverse features.

The McCutcheons’ crowns are on opposite sides of their heads, and their fingerprint patterns are reverse images.

But like other identical twins, there are eerie similarities in what happens to them.

“When they were younger, one might fall and scrape his chin and the other would do it the next day,” Ann McCutcheon said.

“If one reached (an athletic) milestone, the other would soon pass him, and they would kind of flip-flop back and forth. One might be taller, and the next time you checked, the other would be. But they’ve always been very close in whatever they did.”

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