Brenkus blinded them with science – and a first pitch – at D-backs game

"ESPN Sport Science" host John Brenkus (wearing jersey) meets members of Phoenix's Loyola Academy when Brenkus visited Arizona on Oct. 2 to throw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks' game. (Photo courtesy of John Brenkus)
“ESPN Sport Science” host John Brenkus (wearing jersey) meets students from Phoenix’s Loyola Academy when Brenkus visited Arizona on Oct. 2 to throw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks’ game. (Photo courtesy of John Brenkus)

Joe Tamer’s seventh grade class at Loyola Academy in Phoenix, Ariz. recently turned the scientific method into its own version of “Sport Science,” inspired by John Brenkus’ features of the same name. Little did they know their creativity would land them at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I thought if I could appeal to [Brenkus’] love of science and show him how he inspired these kids to truly dive into their science lessons, there was a chance he might respond. I never imagined it would be this type of response.
– Joe Tamer, Loyola Academy, on “ESPN Sport Science” host John Brenkus’ willingness to meet Tamer’s science students

“They believe [Brenkus] is one of the ‘coolest guys on Earth’ because he combines their love of sports with the rigor of science,” said Tamer. “If scholars are engaged in what they are studying, they will learn more and the lessons will stick with them longer.”

“Getting to work with the world’s greatest athletes is a huge thrill,” said Brenkus, who frequently receives notes from students and educators across the country. “But knowing our work inspires kids across the country is the ultimate reward.”

When Tamer wrote to Brenkus expressing his gratitude as an educator, fate intervened.

Brenkus was set to throw out the first pitch at the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Oct. 2, tied in with the team’s Science of Baseball night. He worked with the organization’s front office to invite Tamer’s class to the game – even onto the field.

“I thought if I could appeal to [Brenkus’] love of science and show him how he inspired these kids to truly dive into their science lessons, there was a chance he might respond,” said Tamer. “I never imagined it would be this type of response.”

“The Arizona Diamondbacks have a long standing relationship with Loyola Academy and together with John, immediately reached out to invite Mr. Tamer, his students and their families to meet John and participate in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) events on Oct. 2 at Chase Field,” said Arizona Diamondbacks Vice President of Corporate and Community Impact Debbie Castaldo. “We were proud to welcome Joseph, Nathan, Andres, Aaron, Charlie, Robert and Ibrahim.”

The team’s generosity included game tickets, a public address introduction as they walked on the field and a meet and greet with Brenkus.

“It means the world to the scholars that Mr. Brenkus has taken the time and effort to respond to us in such a generous way,” said Tamer. “Some of these boys had never been to a professional sporting event or met anyone famous. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Brenkus Takes The Hill

When the Arizona Diamondbacks featured their STEM program, Science of Baseball, on Oct. 2, there was no one better choice to throw out the first pitch than a man who regularly ties together the worlds of sports and science.

“The D-backs, John and the ‘Sport Science’ team share a common goal in making STEM fun and exciting for kids,” said Castaldo. “We use our sport, ballpark and technology as our connection to youth in our community.”

Brenkus was an obvious choice for another reason, though: he’s a former Little League star who has a long history with the game.

“Growing up, baseball was my main sport. I absolutely loved the game,” said Brenkus. “When the D-backs asked me to throw out the first pitch, my immediate reaction was, ‘Heck ya!’ Then I realized that I hadn’t pitched a ball in almost 30 years.

“I kept telling myself to just stay calm,” said Brenkus, who admitted to taking a few practice throws. “I felt myself overanalyzing the situation, so I decided to clear my mind and just go with it. Fortunately, my pitch was, in the words of the D-backs, ‘a perfect pitch (more or less)!’”

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