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REMEMBERING BRENDAN

Published by "The Yellow Jacket", February 28 2002, the Student Newspaper of American International College
Author: Jessel Brizan, Co-Editor in Chief



It is an all to familiar story --- the life of an aspiring young athlete cut short by an untimely death.

The story of Brendan Peter Anthony Grant is another yet distinct chapter in the annals of sport that has seen the premature departure of one of its offspring.

Furthermore, Grant's story is an added chapter in the recent history of AIC athletics that has witnessed the passing of a fellow Yellow Jacket. Eighteen months ago, the College mourned the loss of Rashaan Ali Allen (2/5/77-12/21/00), a member of AIC's football team and the victim of a vehicular accident.

Tragic though both circumstances, Grant's death tells an unusual tale.

On Saturday, October 13, 2001 at 11:00 a.m., a special homecoming memorial ceremony was held at AIC's baseball diamond in honor of the fallen collegian.

Grant loved the game of baseball with a religious fervor. Baseball was the church and he was a loyal devotee.

"Much of his life was baseball. Baseball was everything," explained Casey Grant, Brendan's father.

The oldest child of Casey and Cathy Grant, Brendan was born in Brighton, Massachusetts on August 25, 1982. He grew up a local hero in Belmont, the community that nurtured his youth and his skills on the baseball diamond. He came to AIC in fall 2000 from Belmont High School, where he also played football and wrestling, but his first love was baseball.

As a high school player, Brendan was named to the Middlesex League All-Star Team his junior and senior years. In his senior year (1999-2000), he was a team captain for both the wrestling team and the baseball team. At AIC, Brendan started in left field for the baseball team throughout his first year in college. Unforeseeably, his freshman year would be his last in a Yellow Jacket uniform.

Less than one month before his 19th birthday, Brendan's life came to a sudden end while playing the game he so loved. On June 27, 2001, Brendan was playing summer baseball for the Belmont Senior Babe Ruth Baseball Team on the Belmont High School Varsity Field.

While in Brendan's room, Casey recounted witnessing the tragedy that took his only son.

It was a pleasant Wednesday evening at the Belmont High School Varsity Field. Brendan had doubled the previous inning. Brendan's team took to the field in the sixth inning. Brendan, who normally plays third base, had asked the coach to play left field on the said evening.

A fly ball was hit to left centerfield. Brendan and center fielder Charles Synnott, both instinctively ran to catch the ball oblivious to their collision course. The ensuing disaster would be both traumatic and tragic.

Brendan got up first on his hands and knees. He struggled to his feet and the ball came out of his glove. Brendan staggered a few minutes and fell back down on his hands and knees.

"Brendan was really struggling. It was clear he couldn't breathe. His whole neck and upper area was becoming inflated, he had blood coming out his mouth, and he clearly was losing consciousness. I was holding him and an ambu1ance was called," Casey recalled.

Brendan was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital.

"We were at the hospital, my wife and I, for a rather short time I thought, maybe five or ten minutes at most, when they asked us to step into the quiet room, a little room, to tell us that Brendan did not live."

Jeff Bourque met Brendan when he (Bourque) transferred to AIC in January 2001. The two became not only teammates but developed a close friendship.

"I was sleeping. His uncle called the next morning and told my mom. She woke me up and told me. I was in shock and I couldn't believe what happened. It was just really weird and really sad," Bourque remembered.

In baseball history, the circumstances surrounding the cause of Brendan's death is as rare I as it is unnatural.

For Casey, Brendan's death remains shrouded in mystery. Not only due to the rare and freakish nature of this occurrence, but the seemingly uncanny historical significance surrounding the incident.

In 1955, Harry Agganis, a Boston Red Sox first baseman and former Boston University football star, died at the peak of his career at the age of 25. Agganis had gained and was growing in notoriety for his exploits on the field of sport. And like Brendan's, his untimely death sent the baseball world into shock and mourning.

Brendan was familiar with the Agganis story. His uncle (Casey's brother) and Agganis' cousin were very close friends.

From Brendan's bedroom window could be seen the distant silhouette of Sancta Maria (Saint Maria) Hospital.

"Brendan, the day we moved in here said, 'There's a sports landmark right there. That's Harry Agganis died,' said Casey peering through the window. "What I'm leading up to is that the next day my brother said, 'Casey you know that yesterday when Brendan died, June 27, that's the day Harry Agganis died also.'"

On Monday, November 5 2001, a ceremony was held at The Sports Museum of New England to commemorate a permanent exhibit that has been installed in Brendan's honor. The exhibit is comprised of a locker filled with Brendan's sports treasures and personal effects, and has been placed next to the Harry Agganis exhibit.

"The thing about this particular story, is much like the Harry Agganis story, it's very pure ... it's very clean. It's very tragic because it's dreams that have ended abruptly with tremendous potential to them," Casey reasoned. "But there is no regret, there's no guilt. Honestly, I'm not angry. I'm frustrated with being a mortal. I'm not angry because Brendan died doing what he loved."

Brendan has left behind sisters Lyndsey, 16, and Shannon, 12. But greater still, he has left behind fond memories of laughter, love and life.

"It's been a tremendous loss trying to deal with that. He was an individual that quite frankly was larger than life in his own way. We really could not have asked for a more wonderful son and brother. He made us proud in so many ways and his loss has been truly profound. But certainly on the other hand, we look back and we have nothing but smiles. He's somebody, who when he was here with us, he made us smile a lot and knowing where he is now, he makes us smile. He touched us very deeply. I think we speak, not only for us, but for a lot of other people too. We really could not have asked for a more perfect son."

In Brendan's case it is understandable why the game is played on a baseball diamond - a field of dreams where where precious gems are born.

Ironically, the green field that nurtured Brendan would see him gracefully bow into martyrdom. Brendan's death has garnered a tremendous outpouring of support including several calls from the Hon. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass). His story has traveled beyond the borders of the U.S. as far as Australia and Colombia.

The Brendan Grant Scholarship was established on June 28, 2001 to honor the life and memory of Brendan. Scholarship fund donations may be made payable and sent to: The Brendan Grant Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 184, Belmont, MA 02478-O184. Well-wishers can visit The Brendan Grant Foundation Web site at www.BrendanGrant.org.

Bourque concluded: "I think everyone just should remember what kind of kid he was. He was just a fun kid to be around, so everyone wanted to be around him. Everybody loved him. When he died he was doing what he loved... he loved to play baseball."


This article is used with the permission of "The Yellow Jacket" for the sole purpose of this website, and may not be republished without their permission.