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One leads the league in batting average; the other just made All-Beach Diamond Invitational.
One plays second base; the other plays shortstop.
Together, they turn double plays, hit doubles and make their opponents think they are seeing double.
The Kamfolt twins—Wally and Pat—are a pivotal part of the success of West Brunswick’s baseball team this season.
“Both of them are solid players, and they work really well together,” said West coach Mike Alderson. “They’re twins, so they think on the same wave pattern.”
The brothers are the offspring of sports-loving parents. Their mom once paid $1,500 for four tickets behind the New York Yankees’ dugout—before she even asked her husband if it were OK.
As youngsters, Wally and Pat went to Bucky Dent’s Baseball School for eight years in Delray Beach, Fla., and learned lessons from the starting shortstop for the Yankees in 1977 and ’78 and the 1978 World Series MVP.
Wally has always been a Yankees fan, but his identical twin is partial to the Orioles.
Wally’s favorite major leaguer, however, is Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds.
Pat’s favorite major leaguer is Billy Ripkin of the Orioles. Billy is Cal Ripkin’s younger brother.
Not surprisingly, Pat is Wally’s younger brother—if only by 20 seconds.
Now they’re 16-year-old juniors at West Brunswick.
“As baseball players, they’re very smart,” Alderson said. “They have good baseball skills, but their strongest attribute is their awareness of the game.”
Wally is batting an eye-popping .515 this season, tops in the Mideastern 3A/4A conference.
“He’s seeing the ball well,” Alderson said.
Wally said, “Average doesn’t really matter as long as we’re winning games. I’m glad my average is that high, leading the conference, but it
means more if we win.”
Pat is batting .400 and was most impressive in the Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational in late March when he was selected to the all-tournament team.
“Offensively, Pat had a great tournament,” Alderson said.
Pat said, “I was excited, but I was mad at the same time because we lost that last game (for the championship).”
The Trojans, 8-3, notched a huge win last week over previously undefeated Hoggard (now 12-1) in Wilmington. Pat drilled a double in the gap, went to third and came home when Wally beat out an infield hit. West went on to win 2-1.
It’s becoming a common scenario: Kamfolt drives in Kamfolt.
Kamfolt is an Americanized version of a Russian name. The twins’ dad, Walter Kamfolt, said both his parents were born in the Ukraine.
Walter worked for Ford Motor Co. in six states and retired from Ford in 1995. He now works part-time in real estate at Century 21 Carolina Shores. He moved the boys to Brunswick County in 2004 from Sayreville, N.J., where they had a batting cage in their back yard.
“Bucky Dent wanted us to move to Florida because the boys were friends with his son,” Walter said. “The traffic down in Florida was horrendous, and when I came here and there was no traffic, I said, ‘This is for me.’”
Brunswick County offered a new life for the twins, whose mother died 10 years ago when they were in the second grade.
“Their Ma passed,” Walter recalled. “It was 19 doctors, and they finally found a tumor on the adrenaline gland. They say a person is molded by the time they’re 6 years old, and if that’s true, then Ma did a good job.”
Alderson, the West coach, agreed: “They’re great kids. Academically, they’re A students. They’re polite. They’re quiet and shy, but they’re great kids to have around.”
Wally and Pat are unassuming, well-mannered and soft-spoken. Their father’s voice, by contrast, carries in the ballpark.
He encourages them during games but doesn’t have to crack the whip academically.
“I’ve never had to tell them to study, never had to tell them to do homework,” Walter said.
Asked to describe how the twins are different, he said, “Believe it or not, they’re both the same. In school, they’re both on the honor roll. They play golf. They’re 4 handicappers, both of them. They play in the N.C. Amateur Golf Tournament.”
The Kamfolts live in Brunswick Plantation in Calabash.
The twins also play basketball, and they’re both starters for the Trojans.
And finally, “they’re both named after me,” Walter said. “They called me Pat when I was young.”
The twins do differ in one way, however.
“When they were smaller, they always dressed the same,” Walter said. “Now, if one buys a pair of shoes that the other one likes, then the other one won’t buy that same kind.”
These days, they’re both wearing baseball cleats.
Wally’s biggest thrill in the sport was hitting a walk-off home run in the Junior Legion state playoffs. Pat’s favorite moment was West winning the Beach Diamond Invitational last year.
Walter was proud of Pat for making all-tournament this year, and he was equally proud of Wally when the dad heard Wally congratulate Pat.
Walter has watched the ups and downs of the twins, from the time he would come home and have to make 21 bottles of formula, to picking them up from middle and then high school.
“I used to sit in the car and actually cry when they first came out of Shallotte Middle School because they were walking by themselves, and all the other kids were walking with friends,” Walter said.
Team sports changed all that. Basketball and baseball gave the boys instant acceptance, and friendships with their classmates have grown since then.
It’s been a long time since the twins were youngsters and their mom paid the $1,500 for four tickets behind the Yankees dugout.
“She said, ‘I hope you’re not mad at me,’ but I just laughed,” Walter said.
They got to the game early, and Barbara Kamfolt threw a baseball to Yankee superstar Derek Jeter. He signed it, and so did famous closer Mariano Rivera. Walter now has that signed baseball in a lock box.
There’s no way Barbara Kamfolt could have known how little time she had left. She decided to splurge, and now her husband and their twin sons have a fantastic memory of baseball and family.
sarah SUE INGRAM is interim sports editor for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.