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Originally published Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Flashback | Best boys were K-M foes' worst nightmare

Athletes: Karl Best and Richard Best, Class of 1977, and Jeb Best, Class of 1978, all Kent-Meridian High School.

Sports: Karl and Jeb, basketball and baseball; Richard, football, basketball, baseball.

High-school rewind: The Best boys, brothers Karl and Jeb and cousin Richard, were among the top high-school athletes of their time. They made an especially fearsome lineup in baseball with Karl pitching, Richard behind the plate and Jeb at second base. Karl pitched Kent-Meridian to its first state tournament as a senior, tossing a one-hitter (a leadoff triple) in a 4-3 win over Chief Sealth, but the Royals lost to Redmond in the next round. Karl also was a sharpshooter in basketball, his favorite sport at the time, but fractured his wrist and missed half of his senior season. Richard, six days younger than Karl, missed his senior year of football after a knee injury the previous summer, but still served as a team captain. A lineman, he had received college recruiting interest. Jeb, younger than Karl and Richard by 11 months, was considered by many the best overall athlete of the three. He led K-M to a surprising fifth-place basketball finish at state his senior year and was the top scorer in the tournament at 23 points per game.

After high school: Karl signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Washington State, but signed with the Mariners and pitched for them from 1983-86. In 1985, he was 2-1 with four saves, a 1.95 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 32-1/3 innings. Best, with a 95-mph fastball, was sidelined in 1987 while battling injuries, then pitched for Minnesota in 1988 before retiring.

Richard played baseball at Tacoma Community College, but a second knee operation cut short his career.

Jeb received a partial baseball scholarship to Washington and became the Huskies' career batting leader (.392) with a UW-record .426 average in 1981. He was voted to the UW's all-century team. The Mariners drafted him with a late pick, but Jeb never signed.

Personal: Karl, 47, and his wife Patricia have two daughters, ages 20 and 18. The youngest, Amanda, is a star basketball player at Woodinville High School. Karl owns K-Best Construction, Inc.

Richard, 47, and his wife Connie live in Puyallup and have four daughters, ages 20, 18, 12 and 10. He has been a dispatcher for Hertz car rentals for 27 years.

Jeb, 46, and his wife Kathryne live near Bellevue and have two daughters, ages 15 and 12. He is in his 23rd year with the King County Housing Authority.

Fast forward: The Best boys have fond memories of their high-school days together. "That was so much fun back then. "It was a blast," Richard said.

The two families always lived close to one another when the boys were growing up and they generally were off playing one sport or another together. Surprisingly, they all claim there was no real rivalry among them to see who was better.

"We just always tried to play as well as we could and see what happened," said Karl, who spends much of his time these days following Amanda's basketball career. "We never really tried to go one-up on each other."

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