The surprise that Master Sergeant Robert Brantly received on his final day of work is one he’ll never forget.
The father of White Sox catcher Rob Brantly, the elder Brantly was honored on the field on Monday night as the team’s Hero of the Game and joined by his son, who presented him with an autographed bat. The 37-year Air Force veteran, who also celebrated his 56th birthday, wasn’t informed he would be recognized by the White Sox on the field with his son until late Sunday.
“When I saw my son there and gave him a big hug and he told me I was his hero, it meant the world,” the elder Brantly said. “I can’t express it any other way than just gratitude for this organization, this team and my family putting up with me being away for so many different occasions with the military.
“I will never forget coming here to Chicago.”
The White Sox backstop said he informed the club that his father, an Angels fan, would be in town on his final day of employment in the Air Force. Brantly’s first day as a civilian is Tuesday.
“It’s a pretty emotional moment for me just knowing that my dad in the service he put into this country for almost 40 years fighting for our freedom, but also fighting to give me, his son, every opportunity in the world to succeed and he gave me this opportunity to be here and to be able to play Major League Baseball not only as a service man but as a father teaching me everything to know about baseball and the passion that comes along with the game,” the younger Brantly said.
“He would tell me he puts on that uniform every day so I don’t have to. It carries a lot of weight. To be able to do something like that for him and to finish off his career, his first day of retirement, tipping his cap to a Major League Baseball crowd giving him a standing ovation, it was a special moment for him and our family. I was glad I was able to be there to share that with him.”
What began as an attempt at humor with his manager on Thursday resulted in Rob Brantly’s first time pitching since he played youth sports.
With Carlos Rodon a late scratch and the team short on arms, the White Sox catcher walked over to manager Rick Renteria and volunteered his services. Less than an inning later, Brantly was in the bullpen to test out his arm. And before the night was over, Brantly became the first White Sox catcher to ever pitch in a game as he threw an inning in an 11-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“I jokingly went up to the skip and I was like ‘Hey, fresh arm today if you need it’ and I gave him a high five,” Brantly said. “Completely joking. And then like all of a sudden in the ninth inning, I’m standing on the mound of a Major League Baseball game. I haven’t thrown since forever, but yeah. It was fun to be in there and at least throw strikes.”
Mike Pelfrey pitched four innings in Rodon’s stead after he learned 20 minutes before the game he would make the start. But Pelfrey struggled early as the first four batters reached and he trailed 4-0 after Edwin Encarnacion’s homer. At that point, the possibility the White Sox would need a new solution resulted in Brantly headed to the bullpen.
“Rick told me, ‘Let’s find out if you can make it 60 feet, 6 inches first,’ ” Brantly said. “We went down there and he felt pretty confident that I could come in and throw strikes if the situation came up and you don’t want to be in that situations.”
Brantly bounced his first pitch but quickly settled in. He allowed a solo homer to Erik Gonzalez with one out in the ninth inning, but retired the next two. Included in the inning was a comebacker and a chance to cover first on a 3-1 ground out.
“I got tested today on both of them,” Brantly said. “The one where I covered first, that play is no joke. There are a lot of different things going on there. (Greg) Allen is a fast runner, he was barreling down for the knock and to catch the ball and find the bag at the same time, I have a whole new respect for pitchers and their PFPs.”
Rick Hahn may need to trade for an exterminator.
For the third time in the past week, the injury bug has made direct contact with one of the White Sox promising young players.
The White Sox announced on Saturday morning they have placed Nicky Delmonico on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right wrist. The news comes a day after the White Sox sent MLB's No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada to the DL with a bone contusion. Just last week, pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez landed on the DL with a strained back.
The 25-year-old Delmonico had been on a tear since making his MLB debut earlier this month. Delmonico reached base safely in 21 of his first 22 professional games, slashing .307/.429/.573 with six home runs and 12 RBI during that span.
Delmonico etched his name into the White Sox history books by becoming the first player to hit six home runs over his first 19 career MLB games.
To replace Delmonico on the roster, the White Sox purchased the contract of catcher Rob Brantly from Triple-A Charlotte.
This marks Brantly's second stint with the White Sox as he was with the team for 14 games toward the end of the 2015 season.
Brantly, 28, was slashing .290/.350/.442 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI in 82 combined games with Triple-A Charlotte and Triple-A Louisville (Cincinnati Reds affiliate) in 2017.
The White Sox continue their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers at 6 p.m. Saturday night on CSN.