South Kitsap baseball brothers talk upcoming Pac-12 matchup

Teammates on South Kitsap High School’s state championship baseball team in 1996, Willie Bloomquist at Arizona State and Jason Ellison at the University of Washington will be facing off as opponents in a three-game series in May.

Ellison is the newly hired hitting coach for UW. He took the job to be closer to home and return to some semblance of on-field action.

“Eventually, being back on the field was always in the plans,” Ellison said. “With this opportunity, I just couldn’t pass it up, and so far so good.”

The Arizona State matchup has added importance to Ellison and the same could be said for the man in charge of the opposing dugout. Sun Devils head coach Bloomquist, whose family took in Ellison during the pair’s days at SK High, also said he is relishing the series.

“We’ve always been brothers. That part of it never changes” Bloomquist said.

He continued: “We need more good baseball guys in the college game, and I think the guys that do it right are starting to gravitate toward the college game because it’s a lot more fun, a lot more intense, kind of how we used to play. I’m pumped (Jason’s) back, and he gets to deal with all the stuff I gotta deal with.”

The pair were brought together by the game they both loved. Rivals in junior high, the Bloomquist family welcomed then high schooler Ellison away from the uncertainty of a broken household and into their home as one of their own. The living arrangement created a balance on the field and in the home—the wild horse mannerisms of Ellison rubbing off on Bloomquist and likewise with the latter’s stick-to-the-book strictness.

They would see themselves better because of it, and eventually, their work took them to the highest of high school athletic achievements. They become champions together, leading the Wolves to a state title before going their separate ways in college.

After that, as pros, Bloomquist caught more of the public eye, being the locally grown utility player who spent a good amount of his 14-season career with the Seattle Mariners. The majority of Ellison’s playing career was spent in San Francisco in the shadows of one of baseball’s Giants, Barry Bonds, leaving his time on the field sporadic.

Both players, however, remember fondly the 2007 MLB season as a high point after a trade brought Ellison to Seattle. “For us to be able to come back together, that was probably one of the funnest years I’ve had playing,” Ellison recalled. “To be able to play together at that level with our hometown team, it was really special.”

Bloomquist added with a laugh: “Fortunately, or unfortunately, Jason and I got to spend a lot of time catching up on the bench together. Probably a little more than we wanted to at times.”

One lasting memory was the time Bloomquist found himself holding his brother back minutes after Ellison had put up his dukes against Oakland A’s pitcher Joe Blanton, causing the benches to empty. Blanton had committed the ultimate sin of shoving Ichiro Suzuki out of the way between himself and the baseball.

“If that isn’t the most fitting picture between our relationship and everything that encompasses our life,” Bloomquist said. Ellison added with a smile, “Willie’s holding me back … cause he knows me pretty well.”

The brothers expect to see the best of each other when the Huskies and Sun Devils collide. “We’ll be going out to try to kick each other’s ass, and then we’ll have a beer afterwards,” Bloomquist cracked. “We’ll always be like that.”