ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — All Ethan Norby really wanted to do was take a shower.

The freshman left-hander had just guided East Carolina to a crucial victory Sunday against Evansville in which he pitched 5 1/3 innings. He threw 102 pitches in that must-win game, just two days after he threw 58 pitches. Ethan was tired and sweaty, and yet — before he could unwind after the biggest start of his career — he was called into the coaches’ office.

There were Cliff Godwin, Austin Knight and others from the coaching staff. There were his parents, Jill and Dave, and his mom’s partner, Joe Pucci.

Ethan Norby was worried. Was something wrong?

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Then Godwin stretched a phone toward Ethan. On speakerphone, he could see, was Connor Norby, Ethan’s older brother.

“Connor,” Godwin said, “tell your brother what you just said.”

“I’m going to The Show,” Connor Norby supplied.

The magnitude of what his brother had just said didn’t immediately register with Ethan — his mind still racing on the nine strikeouts he had just thrown.

For the rest of his family in the room, the emotions had spilled out hours earlier. Connor called his parents to alert them the Orioles were promoting the infielder to the majors about five minutes after Ethan left the mound at Clark–LeClair Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina, to a standing ovation.

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Dave Norby had only just gotten the tears under control — chants of “Norby” from the sellout crowd still ringing in his ears — when Connor Norby told him the news. He briefly thought that “going to Toronto” meant Connor had been traded there. Jill Norby struggled to say much more than “Oh my God, this is happening.”

So, in the coaches’ office, Ethan took a moment. Then another. And then it clicked. Ethan, finally headed for that shower, raced out of the office and into the clubhouse.

“Big dog going to The Show,” Ethan Norby yelled. “Let’s [expletive] go!”

The Norby family will never forget Sunday night. The two brothers both experienced one of their most memorable athletic achievements a matter of moments apart. They were in different cities, in different parts of their lives, but they were, as always, linked.

As East Carolina’s season came to a close Monday — and with it, a standout freshman year for Ethan — Connor’s major league career was just getting underway in Toronto. And, on Friday at Tropicana Field, Ethan and his parents were in the stands to see Connor as a major leaguer for the first time.

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East Carolina's Ethan Norby (18) pitches during an NCAA regional baseball game on Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Ethan Norby pitches for East Carolina during an NCAA regional game Sunday in Greenville, North Carolina. He struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings to get the win against Evansville. (Ben McKeown/AP)

“I wasn’t trying to one-up him, and he knows that,” Connor Norby said. “But it was a really good day for everybody.”

Even as Ethan Norby shouted the news to his teammates, high-fiving them as he went flying into the locker room, Connor Norby tried to keep the news hush. He had been planning to go to Scranton, Pennsylvania, with the rest of Triple-A Norfolk’s squad on Monday.

Instead, Connor was headed first to D.C. by car and then to Toronto by plane. But, before he could do that, Connor had calls to make — the jaw-dropping ones to his parents, former East Carolina coaches and his brother.

He also had laundry to do. And he needed a haircut.

“I know this is last minute, but can you get me?” Connor Norby asked his barber in Norfolk, Virginia. It was already about 9 p.m., long after the store was closed on a Sunday evening, but Connor was convincing: “I’m looking like a doofus out here; I need a cut bad.”

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His barber dropped everything.

“Got out of there at 10, rushed home, finished laundry, finished packing,” Connor said. He would hardly get to sleep that night.

Meanwhile, a season hung in the balance for East Carolina. With Sunday’s win, the Pirates — the same team Connor had played for in college — momentarily pushed off elimination. Come Monday, a matchup with Evansville would determine whether East Carolina advanced to a super regional.

Connor’s parents didn’t have their passports ready for a trip to Toronto, but instead of rushing to complete paperwork on a Monday morning, Connor emphasized to them that they should stay with Ethan, even though his younger brother wouldn’t be on the mound for the final game in the Greenville Regional.

It’s a familiar feeling for Connor. He’s older; no Norby has done what he is doing. It doesn’t mean Ethan’s achievements are any less notable.

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“I do feel bad, in a way, because it’s always kind of been me at the forefront,” Connor said. “That’s why I was also like, to my parents, you need to be there for him if they win tomorrow. I got to experience that. He needs to experience that, too. I get my opportunity only comes once, but I’m hoping to play this game for 10, 15 more years. So, you guys can see me on TV. You need to be there for his first time being in that environment and everything like that.”

Jill Norby added: “Even when he was in college, playing in regionals, he was like, ‘No, somebody has to be there for Ethan,’ so he’s always been a supportive big brother.”

But, with East Carolina’s season over, the family could relocate for the weekend to Florida. Pucci joked that while they missed Connor’s Canadian debut — which included a home run for his first major league hit — they wouldn’t miss his American debut.

When the Norbys arrived at the team hotel for the Rays series, Ethan had another moment of shock. The hotels East Carolina stays in for road trips are nice. But his brother’s new digs with the Orioles?

“This is the nicest place I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ethan thought when he entered the hotel. “Like, they’re selling macaroons in the lobby. What am I doing here?”

He’s here because of his older brother. They’re years apart, with Ethan just beginning his college career while Connor starts his major league career.

But, over the last week, they’ve both experienced landmark successes in baseball that will always be locked together on an unforgettable Sunday.

“I’m a little speechless sometimes,” Dave Norby said, “with everything going on.”