Now five years later, the Windle twins have reunited more than 1,000 miles from their hometown of Maple Grove, MN as their professional athletic careers have brought them both to Reading, PA.
Sam was a defenseman on their high school hockey team in Maple Grove, while Tom played forward. In the summer the two would hang up their skates for a pair of cleats. Tom was a left-handed standout on the mound, while Sam split time pitching and behind the plate at Osseo High School in Osseo, MN.
But after 18 years competing on the same teams, college offers forced the identical twins to part ways.
Tom, a 6’4 lefty, entertained Division I offers to play baseball and was headed on the path to play professionally, while Sam, also 6’4, 233lbs, made the decision to forgo his spot with North Dakota State baseball for a slot on Bemidji State University’s Division I hockey team—which has produced more than 60 professional players, including Flyers’ winger Matt Read.
Tom stayed in his home state to attend the University of Minnesota, where he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2013 first-year player draft, as a college junior. Before leaving for LA, he etched himself in the school history books by pitching the schools only nine inning no-hitter. He would advance to High-A in the Dodgers organization after signing in 2013.
Tom became a Fightin Phil nine months ago after being traded to the Phillies as a part of the Jimmy Rollins deal with Los Angeles, and assigned to their Double-A affiliate. Since joining the Reading Fightin Phils, Tom has transitioned from a starting pitcher to a pillar in the teams’ impressive bullpen.
“I needed that transition,” Tom Windle said. Since joining the bullpen in late June, Tom has only allowed five earned runs in more than 24 innings pitched, striking out 20 batters. “I was struggling as a starter and it kind of gave me a chance at a second season.”
After graduating from Bemidji State University, Sam Windle traveled to Reading to visit Tom in the heat of summer baseball. The d-man previously entertained interest from the Royals just after his senior season concluded, but it wasn’t until his visit to Reading that he decided to take a meeting with Royals head coach Larry Courville and tour the ECHL facility. Sam decided to make Reading his new home a few weeks later and signed a rookie contract with the Flyers ECHL affiliate.
“There’s always that thought about the future,” Sam said about playing in the same city as Tom. “If I could stick with the organization and [Tom] sticks with the organization it would be pretty cool to be together in that city.”
Tom said the two talked about playing in the same city while he was still playing in the Dodgers minor league system, saying they hoped Sam would sign with the Los Angeles Kings.
“I guess we're just switching to the East Coast,” Tom said. “Hopefully we can still accomplish that goal.”