I’ve been writing about baseball for a long time. I’ve interviewed hundreds of college baseball players, most of the players at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). I’ve only met two young men playing baseball at the HBCU level, who told me that their dream was not to play professional baseball. There is a large percentage of Black college baseball student-athletes who want to pursue professional baseball as a career; despite the fact, Major League Baseball seldom send scouts to watch HBCU baseball games.
One of those young men is Grant Bennett, a senior power hitter and pitcher for the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers.
What makes Bennett’s revelation so remarkable is that it came moments after he had a day on the diamond most players at any level dream about, but seldom achieve.
“I’ll look at the stats later… My main mission today was to play hard, to play for God,” Bennett said when a reporter pressed him to talk about his achievements on the opening day of the 2020 baseball season.
For the record, in a doubleheader against Tuskegee University, Bennett hit three home runs. He drove in nine RBIs. Then he capped off his dream game with a dominating pitching performance.
Morehouse Head Baseball Coach Tony Grissom is fond of saying when asked where he finds these good baseball players, “Coaching at Morehouse, I have to take what I find walking on campus.”
Bennett at 200 pounds on six feet and the one-inch frame is the kind of package professional baseball players bring to the table. He sauntered onto the Morehouse campus four years ago from Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
His goal was to play baseball and have a little fun while in college. His immediate plans after college was not a contract with a major league team, it was to enroll into journalism school and obtain a masters in journalism. His chief ambition was to use his J-school degree to become a broadcaster for ESPN or a sports psychologist for a professional athletic organization.
Bennett had solid seasons his freshman and sophomore years, catching the eye of this reporter for his work with the bat and on the mound. During his sophomore year, his grandfather transitioned. Bennett was thrown for a loop. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. His grandfather had been one of his main baseball coaches from the very first day Bennett had played little league ball.
When fall practice started during his junior year, Bennett decided to hang up the cleats. He hit the books and campus life.
In the process of finding a bite of himself that he lost with the passing of his granddad, Bennet changed his major to finance.
This significant change put him in contact with Google. They liked what they saw and offered Bennett a job as a Human Resource Associate in their Oakland office. He begins work in August.
With a good job in the bag, Bennett felt the tug of his granddad, so he picked up his glove and strapped on his cleats. It was time to honor his granddad on the diamond one more time before heading into the world of corporate work.
“I had my angels with me today,” Bennett said, explaining his explosive day at Paterson Field in Montgomery, Alabama.
It will be left up to his younger brother who is on the roster at the University of North Carolina to chase their grandfather’s dream of a Bennett in the major leagues.
Harold Michael Harvey is the author of Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker contact him at email@example.com.