Well, he's a professional baseball player. He's a former Columbus Catfish player, having played in late 2004, in all of 2005, and part of 2006.
What's so special about Brandon? Well, the Wife and I were his host family during the few weeks he was in Columbus in 2004 after moving up from Ogden (at the time, the Rookie team below Class-A Columbus). We realized pretty quick that he was a great kid. Okay, a great young man.
The next year, Brandon was assigned to a different family, and the Wife and I hosted two other players. But we still enjoyed spending the little bits of time with him.
Both years, Brandon suffered back injuries. And he's the first to tell you how difficult it is to overcome that kind of thing. Still, he stayed positive through it all, and continued to be the great person he is.
At the end of the 2005 season, Catfish fans voted him Citizen of the Year. The Wife and I weren't the only ones who realized the caliber of person Brandon is.
In 2006, things went really bad for Brandon. After appearing in 17 games for the Catfish, limited by his recurring injury, he was released by the Dodgers (the Catfish' Major League affiliate at the time).
Late in the year, he wound up with the Reno Silver Sox of the Golden Baseball League. The Silver Sox eventually won the league championship, but Brandon wasn't there to celebrate. He had been released in mid-August.
This year, the season began with Brandon playing for ... nobody.
But, he had appeared at tryouts in Arizona, and representatives from the South Coast League were there. And on June 6, five weeks into the SCL season, Brandon signed with the Anderson Joes.
The South Coast League is, like the Golden Baseball League, an independent league. Players not under contract to any Major League team. The level of play, from what I've seen of the SCL, is approximately Class A. Except, unlike in Class A, the pitchers bat; there's no DH. It's real baseball.
On Monday of this week, the Wife and I drove over to Macon after work. You see, the Macon Music were hosting the Anderson Joes. So there was the chance we'd get to see Brandon play.
Well, we saw Brandon. But we didn't see him play. He was coming off another injury. He had pulled a hamstring running out a ground ball about a week ago. He was resting that night.
Like I said, we didn't see him play. But we saw him. And he saw us. The look of recognition, shock, surprise and pleasure all registered on his face in less than a second. And after the game, when we actually got to talk to him, he was floored by the fact that we had traveled the 100 miles to Macon to watch him play.
We didn't get to see him play because the manager held him out to allow him another day to heal from the hamstring pull. The next day's game was canceled because of rain, and the following day's games were at noon.
The next opportunity to see him play will be in early July, when Anderson travels to
Still, though we didn't see him play, we got to talk to him, and that was great in and of itself.
We took Brandon and a teammate -- they share a room when on the road -- out to eat. And we had a great time catching up.
He has a real positive outlook on life, not just on baseball. He hasn't let his injuries that lead to his release by two teams last year get him down. He's out there every day, giving his all, and contributing what he can to those around him.
We need more people like that in this world.