In the early 1980s, John Brenkus was a speedy outfielder for the Vienna (Va.) Yankees in Little League.
Brenkus was so accomplished that he joined a collection of D.C.-area youth baseball all-stars for a visit to the White House during the first Reagan Administration.
As these pictures attest, the future host of ESPN’s Sport Science segments got a chance to present a cap to President Ronald Reagan.
As the 2011 Little League World Series concludes Sunday on ABC — Hurricane Irene permitting — Brenkus recalled the thrill of such an honor for Front Row.
“I remember he actually took the cap and put it on, and he shook my hand. He certainly was pretty amazing. A big thrill for sure,” said Brenkus of meeting Reagan, who met the procession of Little League stars with his wife Nancy.
Brenkus, famous for the trials he puts himself through in the name of science, reveals more about the White House visit and details the “Brenkus Double.”
FR: What were the circumstances that allowed you and your Little League All-Star teammates to visit the White House?
Brenkus: Our Little League All-Star team was selected as one of the local teams to go visit the White House during the Reagan Administration. One of the perks to growing up in the D.C. area!
FR: How did you get selected to meet President Reagan?
Brenkus: I was “selected” as the player to give President Reagan one of our hats because I was the shortest player on the team and had to stand in the front row in order to see. By being short, I got to be the closest player to the President and, therefore, was the logical choice to hand him the hat.
FR: What kind of season did you have that year in Little League?
Brenkus: I played centerfield because I could cover lots of ground very quickly. I was the fastest player on the team. My, how times have changed. Can’t remember any stats other than I played well enough to be voted on the all-star team.
FR: Do you still keep in touch with any of those all-star teammates?
Brenkus: Have only seen a couple of those all-star teammates a few times since high school.
FR: With your busy schedule, how much of the Little League World Series do you get a chance to watch? Favorite team?
Brenkus: I watch as much as I can, and I am currently still pulling for California (since I now live in LA)!
FR: How far away are we from seeing a 12-year-old with a 90 mph fastball?
Brenkus: A long way. Throwing 70 is hard enough. Throwing 90 is a 30 percent improvement. That’s not going to happen for a long time.
FR: You compete in Ironman Triathlons and took the extreme sports feat to another level with the so-called “Brenkus Double.” Can you explain what that is and the risk that was involved?
Brenkus: I did the Kona Ironman man (2.4 mile swim, 112 mike bike and 26.2 mike run) then one week later I did the Optimus Swim Distance Challenge, which was a 12.6 mile swim in 60-degree water. Since I was the first human to do those events back to back, it affectionately was dubbed “the Brenkus Double.” First one over the mountain gets to name it, right? The main risk was hypothermia from the long swim. Never been that cold in my life.
For breaking news, results and schedule info, check out the Little League World Series Facebook page.
Also, check out this Sport Science video on Little League player capabilities.