From Little League to Fresno State
April 14, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Teammates form a special bond after spending countless hours together in practice, games, and off the field. For two Bulldogs their friendship began before they put on the Fresno State uniform. Alan Ahmady and Jordan Ribera have been attached at the hip for as long as they can remember.
"I have known Jordan since first grade and he was in kindergarten," said Ahmady. "I met his sister before I met him. I was friends with his sister and then met little Jordan. We have been really close friends pretty much all our lives."
"Since elementary school we have been like brothers," said Ribera. "We played little league together, we hung out together and he dated my older sister in like fourth grade. He won't say it, but he knows it."
For those that don't know the two infielders it is easy to assume that they are brothers, which many have mistaken them for. With so much in common it is easy to see how people can think they are related.
"Everyone thought we were brothers anyway, supposedly we look alike," said Ahmady.
"We do everything together on and off the field. We play the same position, so we are always with each other," said Ribera. "We have the same hitting style, so we are always competing with each other during batting practice. His numbers are definitely showing a little better than mine right now."
The Clovis West graduates didn't plan to continue playing baseball together at the collegiate level, it just kind of happened.
"I knew Al was going to play college ball for sure, but I really didn't know what I was going to do," said Ribera. "I really wanted to play football, but I hurt myself and then it just kind of happened meeting with coach Batesole."
"When I come here, Jordan started talking to Fresno State and he called me and asked what he should do. He asked what to do about this and that," said Ahmady. "I told that he should come here. `It is a great place to play and the fans are great and coach is cool. You will get better here. And we will get a chance to do something big.' It turns out he came here and we did something special."
Not every baseball player can call themselves a National Champion and even less can achieve that goal with their best friend.
"It was a dream, what happened was we were basically dreaming for a whole season and it was crazy that it all happened," said Ahmady. "And to do it with someone that is as close to as a brother it's more than that and the memories, it is something that I will never forget."
After joining the Bulldogs baseball family the best buddies had to make a similar adjustment and learn a new position. Both `Dogs began playing first base at Fresno State.
"I used to catch and play third base," said Ribera. "He pitched, played right field, short stop and everywhere because he can do it all. Now we are both over at first base."
When a swing is off or a ground ball is missed they look to each other for advice in how to get out of a slump.
"We are always helping each other out," said Ahmady. "During ground balls it is what did I do wrong and what he did wrong and how we can fix it. We are always helping each other out."
Ribera added, "I listen to his advice. After every at bat I come to him to see what went wrong and how to fix it. He does the same thing. He is the first person I go to and I am the first person he goes to."
Like any superstitious baseball players the guys have pre-game ritual that is never missed.
"We play knuckle ball catch before every game. It is just something fun that we do," said Ribera. "We throw off speed pitches to each other. I tell him mine are better and he says his are. It just started and we do it before every game now."
Aside from playing catch the Bulldog infielders also have a handshake. Ahmady stated that if the two don't do their handshake before the game it's cursed and they have to do it.
"We have our hand shake that we do after a home run or great play," said Ribera. "He is either the first person to congratulate me or the last, so we have time to do our handshake. Usually he is the first because it is better when we can do our handshake at home plate for everyone to see."
Together they have won little league games, WAC Championships and a National Championship. They both swear that as long as they have been friends they have never, ever gotten in a fight or gotten sick of each other.
"We see each other every second of every day," said Ribera with a big smile on his face. "Never get sick of each other even if we are in a bad mood, we don't get mad at each other. We have never ever got in a fight about anything, besides whose ball went farther in batting practice."
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The `Dogs travel to Louisiana Tech for a four game WAC series April 17-19. The `Dogs return to Beiden Field Friday, May 1 as they host WAC rival Nevada. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Bulldog Ticket Office, calling 278-DOGS or online at gobulldogs.com.