THEY GREW UP across the street from each other in the Chartwell section of Severna Park, came through the same rec league pipeline and went to the same high school in Catonsville. Now, the nearly identical paths of Mark Teixeira and Gavin Floyd will add the ultimate coincidence when both are selected early in the first round of Tuesday's baseball draft.
"It's unimaginable," said Margy Teixeira, Mark's mother. "You could throw a ball back and forth between our back door and the Floyds' front door."
The Baltimore area has produced its share of top baseball prospects over the years - Dave Boswell, Greg Arnold, Jim Spencer and Moose Haas, to name a few. But two early first-rounders in the same year? Never. And two early first-rounders who come from the same neighborhood and once carpooled to school together? Never again, probably.
"It's amazing and, needless to say, we're ecstatic," said Dave Norton, the baseball coach at Mount St. Joseph, from which Teixeira graduated in 1998 and Floyd graduated last weekend. "As near as we can tell, it's the first time in history that two guys from the same school have gone in the top 10 of the same draft."
Teixeira is a slugging third baseman who has played the past three seasons at Georgia Tech. He was the college game's Player of the Year last season. Baseball America ranks him as this draft's top position-player prospect and second-best overall prospect.
Floyd is ranked as the second-best pitching prospect and fourth-best overall prospect.
Both are so highly regarded that, although drafts are always unpredictable, they should be gone when the Orioles choose with the seventh pick in the first round.
Talk about a good day for a block party in Chartwell.
"It's all good, all very exciting," said Elaine Floyd, Gavin's mother. "Sometimes, it's hard to believe how it's worked out."
The Teixeiras moved into their home on Wembley Way more than a decade ago and immediately struck up a friendship with the Floyds, who lived across the street on Yorkshire Drive.
"Our back door faces their front door," Margy Teixeira said. "We're on different streets, but the way the houses are arranged, it's a clear view between our yard and their yard."
The friendship between the families was almost inevitable - Mark Teixeira and Michael Floyd, Gavin's older brother, were the same age, played together on various youth league teams for years and were classmates all through school. The families spent countless weekends together on the travel team trail, watching baseball and soccer. (Michael Floyd is now a junior outfielder at the University of South Carolina, a fine player, too.)
"It was always Mark and Michael, Mark and Michael, with Gavin as the little brother you had to look after, off to the side throwing a ball and running around," Margy Teixeira said. "When Mark and Michael drove to school together every day when they were [high school] seniors [in 1998], Gavin [as a freshman] was in the back seat every morning."
Said Norton, the Mount St. Joe coach: "Long before Gavin came to school here, he was coming to our games to watch his older brother. His dad would take him out to the bullpen to throw, wanting me to see how the kid was doing. Back then, he just looked like any 11-year-old who wanted to play high school baseball. Then he started to grow."
Did he ever. Now 6 feet 5 and 200 pounds, Floyd has followed Teixeira's path and risen to the top of the amateur game. With a fastball in the 91- to 94-mph range and a wicked curve, he is, according to Baseball America, "a known commodity" who "compares to Kerry Wood."
Not bad for the eternal younger brother.
"When Mark was drafted after high school and chose to go to Georgia Tech, we noted that the next time he would be eligible for the draft [after his junior year], Gavin would be graduating and also eligible at the same time," Margy Teixeira said. "We teased Mark that Gavin might end up getting drafted ahead of him. Mark said, `That'd be cool.' "
As it turns out, they might go back-to-back in the first minutes of the first round.
No one would be drafted ahead of Teixeira, probably, if he hadn't broken his ankle earlier this season, ruining his chance to win another Player of the Year award. But he's still regarded as a can't-miss talent who could be in the major leagues as early as next season.
"Both are great players, and when people ask me what qualities they share, that's easy," Norton said. "Both have an extremely strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. They always worked out on their own, beyond the workouts I assigned. Mark would go home after practice and hit 200 or 300 balls off a tee every night. And Gavin, whenever he finishes, always runs sprints. He does that after every practice and game.
"But the best part about it is, despite their talents and the publicity they have gotten, they're just normal kids from good families. If you walked into a room, you wouldn't be able to pick them out as anything special. Here at school, they're just one of us."
Neighbors. Family friends. And now, fellow stars in baseball's draft class of 2001.