Jordan Westburg boarded a bus in Charlotte, North Carolina, and walked past row after row of baseball players hoping to make the Team USA Collegiate Baseball team.

Finally, at the back of the bus, he found a spot next to Colton Cowser. He knew who the guy next to him was only by name — Westburg’s Mississippi State had played against Cowser’s Sam Houston State earlier that 2019 season — and that he was one of the only freshmen invited to this tryout.

Westburg noticed right away that this guy was chatty. Like really chatty. Westburg, at heart, is not. But there was something about this guy that caused Westburg to warm up to him right away.

“I noticed that he was very talkative and easy to talk to,” Westburg said. “I was like, ‘Oh, he seems like he wants to talk, so let’s chat it out.”

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Westburg did not make the team; Cowser did and was named MVP of the USA vs. Cuba friendship series that summer. But that moment on the bus, long before the results of the tryout were finalized, was the start of something else. That was the day that the two met for the first time and laid the foundation for a friendship that is now thriving at the major league level.

Cowser is seen as the class clown, Westburg as the serious student who is strictly business. On paper, they seem like total opposites The two argue that’s far from the truth, and each credits the other for bringing out his best traits on the field.

“We’re a lot more similar than we portray, I think,” Cowser said. “Deep down, I express my goofiness a bit more, but he has some in him. I take after his very serious looks sometimes, too.”

“It’s scary to say, but I think we think alike more than people know,” Westburg added. “I think we clicked and we’ve grown close because we are alike.”

While the two met that day on the bus five years ago, Cowser said they didn’t become friends until 2021, when they were both in the fall instructional league camp. Westburg claims it was actually 2022, when Cowser was promoted to Triple-A and they were not only on the same team for the first time, but locker mates.

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Cowser looked to Westburg for help early on in his Triple-A stint as he struggled to adjust to the new level. The social part of baseball is huge to Cowser, Westburg said, and he needed a friend to show him the ropes.

It quickly became more than that. They bonded over Legos and “Star Wars,” and their random curiosities. Westburg said a weird telepathy developed — he would wonder about something, and soon Cowser would announce that thought out loud.

“I had to deal with him every day,” Westburg said. “All of a sudden, we’re together all the time and it just blossoms. ... It seemed like we think about some of the same things. I don’t really know how to describe that or how they happen.”

From there, the two became essentially attached at the hip as their careers followed similar paths. That next spring, they were in major league camp with eyes on them as they got closer to being in the conversation.

Both were sent to Triple-A to start the 2023 season, where they picked up right where they left off the year prior. Westburg got his call-up first and gave only a slight grin when Norfolk manager Buck Britton delivered the news. He had five hits in his first three games, again showing little emotion.

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A little over a week later, it was Cowser’s turn. He had a huge smile on his face before he even heard the news. His reaction, per usual, was the opposite of Westburg’s.

The two reunited in the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. They had only been apart for a few games, but to Westburg it felt like a piece of him was back.

“I was so happy for him, I remember feeling like I have one of my guys up here,” Westburg said. “To have him get called up, not only was I happy for him, it was a calming element for me.”

It didn’t last long — Cowser was sent back to Triple-A after 26 games — but the two FaceTimed often. This year, they are back together, all the time. They are so conjoined they requested connecting rooms on road trips — they do everything together anyways, why not take the commute out of it? Plus, Westburg noted, he knows he can bang on the wall if his neighbor is making too much noise.

“They’re at the opposite end of the spectrum,” Heston Kjerstad said. “They definitely have their moments where one of them is getting on the other one for being too serious or being too goofy.”

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Still, each has rubbed off on the other. Cowser has always been able to flip the switch at game time, but he’s grown to admire how Westburg goes about his business and wanted to add some of that into his own game. Westburg, on the other hand, has opened up as he’s gotten more comfortable in the majors.

He’s still the picture of focus, but he’s let out his fun side more, even breaking out into a shimmy after hitting a walk-off single that drove Cowser home.

“He really does have fun,” Cowser said.