Blake Brewster understands that his four-year career with the Sooners is coming to an end. He — along with fellow seniors Brylie Ware and Ryan Madden — will be honored on senior day on Sunday, May 12, in the final game of the regular season at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
While he is set to receive a framed jersey and be greeted with hugs from teammates and family members in front of a likely sizable Sunday crowd, Brewster’s mind will be mainly set on the position his team is in. When asked about how he feels heading into senior day, Brewster immediately deflected the attention to his team’s preparedness.
“As far as on the field, (we’re) pretty confident,” Brewster said. “We have a big opportunity right in our way and I feel like we’re ready to attack it to be honest with you.”
After recently falling on the wrong end of a sweep against Texas Tech — the first of the season — the Sooners are in the middle of the Bedlam series against Oklahoma State with a potential uphill battle in front of them to try to clinch their third straight NCAA tournament berth.
But when the season ends, whether it’s after a loss in the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City or much further down the line, the Sooners will lose three seniors. When it comes to Brewster specifically, Oklahoma will lose the constant sense of looseness that the Moore, Oklahoma, native brings to the table.
“Probably the looseness (is what we’re losing), keeping everybody loose,” head coach Skip Johnson said. “If it’s a tight game he’s happy-go-lucky, the spirit that he brings, the love that he brings, more so than anything.”
The Sooners will lose a player who has a history of stepping in and having quality at-bats when his number is called, as well as a team member who, according to Johnson, loves his teammates to no end, puts the name on the front of the jersey above his own and, at the same time, is a known joke-teller who can light up a room.
“Love is the most powerful thing in the world and he loves his teammates to no end,” Johnson said. “I think that’s a special thing that a lot of kids forget about in team-oriented sports and athletics.”
“My name’s Joe.”
Brewster had just hit the biggest home run of his life. It was a ringing solo shot to left field that put the Sooners up 2-0 in the third inning of an elimination game against No. 12 Texas in the 2018 Big 12 tournament. Then a junior, Brewster briskly rounded the bases and stepped on home plate before trotting into a dugout full of fired up teammates.
Then he approached Skip Johnson, and simply said, "My name’s Joe. That’s all my name is.”
The name comes from the main topic of Johnson's pre-game speech revolving around the idea that the team needed nine guys named "Joe" to have quality at-bats and play well in the field. The unique name on the back of every jersey was irrelevant, Johnson recalls saying.
Brewster added a pair of walks to his credit and also made a diving grab in left field to rob Texas’ DJ Petrinsky of extra bases in the seventh inning, helping lead the Sooners to a 3-1 win over the Longhorns to stay alive in the tournament.
It was clear the star of the afternoon stood at six feet tall and wore the No. 2 on the back of Oklahoma’s crimson jerseys. But Brewster did not care about the name and number on the back of his jersey, rather he was concerned about the name etched on the front of every player’s jersey in the Oklahoma dugout. He did not care who received the credit, instead he was content with doing whatever he could do to put his team in position to win the game.
“One thing is he’s the captain of our team and it’s really huge,” Johnson said. “His character (makes him) a really fun guy to be around, loose in the clubhouse and keeps everybody up. He’s what we call one of the ‘Joes.’”
With the selection show for the college baseball postseason just days away, the Sooners had their share of questions and health issues. Fellow outfielders Kyler Murray and Steele Walker, both future top-50 picks in the MLB Draft, were sidelined with injuries, and the offense needed a spark after being shut out in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament against Baylor.
So Johnson turned to Brewster — ‘Another one of the Joe’s" — to resolve his search for someone who could have quality at-bats at the plate and play sound defense in the outfield.
“Coming off the bench, Kyler being hurt, Steele being hurt,” Brewster said, “it was pretty special to play in front of my home crowd and a bunch of my family and put us in a position to win in that game.”
“He could probably be a stand-up comedian.”
Skip Johnson has been a baseball coach for more than 30 years and has coached hundreds of players, each with different personalities and play styles. But, he said, Brewster can tell jokes and talk in different voices better than any kid he has ever coached.
When asked about his future plans, Brewster said, “It’s God’s plan and we’ll see what happens, I’m just here for the ride.” Johnson, meanwhile, has an idea for what his outfielder can do.
“He could probably be a stand-up comedian,' Johnson said. “He can tell a joke in front of the biggest crowd in the world and not have to worry about it. He doesn’t care what he looks like.”
“I’m very gracious and lucky to be here.”
Brewster said he finished up his senior capstone project, just another sign that his time at Oklahoma is coming to an end. As he plays out what will likely be the final games of his career as a Sooner, Brewster will perhaps begin to reflect on what the program has meant to him.
“This place, this program has done more than I can ever ask or deserve to be honest with you,” Brewster said. “I shouldn’t be talking to you right now, I’m very gracious and lucky to be here.”
And, of course, he will never forget the reason he fell in love with baseball in the first place.
“Baseball is just like life,” Brewster said. “I think that’s what really drags me to it is because no matter what happens throughout this life, no matter how many (at-bats) you have, no matter how many starts you have, what you do, it’s all about the relationships you make and that was one of his big things. It’s about the people that you meet and the impacts you have on the lives around you.”
The Sooners are in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 11, to face No. 16 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. for game two of the Bedlam series. The series will move to Norman at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday, May 12, for senior day.