McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

March 13, 2014

Brandon Green has your back

By Matt Goisman
Sports Writer

McALESTER — Third base is traditionally called the “hot corner” because the third baseman has less time to react to a grounder than a shortstop or a second baseman. That might intimidate some third basemen, but not Buffs senior Brandon Green.

Thanks to practicing with his father, Green’s long since got over any fear of the ball.

“He starts with a real ball; he throws it and it hits me square in the face,” Green said Wednesday. “He goes, ‘Nope, we’re going to start with a tennis ball.’ And after thousands of times getting pegged in the head with a tennis ball, I finally learned how to catch it.”

Born in McAlester, Green said he played T-ball as a young boy, but he didn’t really fall in love with baseball until watching his first game: Game 7 of the American League Championship Game Series between his beloved New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in October 2003.

The Yankees won on a walk-off home run by third baseman Aaron Boone. Green said he told his father the next day he wanted to play baseball.

“I remember my dad going crazy, and I saw it and I went crazy too,” Green said. “It was just a quick love for the game.”

Green started playing baseball in the third grade, practicing by himself when he wasn’t playing. He played on a Little League team in McAlester and on a travel team coached by McAlester junior high athletic director John Homer, then started playing for Frink-Chambers in the sixth grade.

Always a pitcher, Green alternated between the mound and second base his first year playing, then moved over to first as a fourth-grade player. He stayed there until his sophomore year at McAlester High School, when he moved to third.

Though still a starting pitcher for the Buffs, Green said he’s since come to love playing defense more than pitching. He said he’s tried to model his playing style on Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

“Pitching so long, you know that you really need someone to have your back,” Green said. “You can’t do it all by yourself, and I like being the support for the other guys.”

As a pitcher, Green said he has four main pitches — two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, change-up and curveball — and occasionally throws a cutter or slider. He said his curveball is his go-to pitch.

Green’s a four-year varsity player for the Buffs. One of the highlights of his career came during his junior season against Byng, a then-top-ranked team in Class 4A on March 9, 2013.

“Top of the seventh inning, we’re tied 1-1 with bases loaded and no outs,” Green said.

“I’m kind of antsy, it’s one of my first few games starting that year, and I remember (Byng’s hitter) hits a line drive right to me. It was about the hardest line drive that was ever hit to me. I remember I catch it right by my face, and I remember just the whole crowd erupting.”

The Buffs won that game 2-1 when fellow senior Grant Sontag scored from second on an error by Byng’s shortstop. Green’s grounder up the middle caused the error.

The Buffs couldn’t get past Regionals in 2013, but Green’s baseball season continued as a member of the Oklahoma Blue team at the Jr. Sunbelt Classic. Green also made the Sophomore Sunbelt Classic in 2012.

Through the first five games of his 2014 final season — of which the Buffs have won four — Green’s batted .389. He’s hit three extra-base hits, scored seven runs, driven in four more and posted an excellent 1.117 on-base plus slugging percentage.

“At McAlester, we have a winning tradition, and I want to bring that back to McAlester,” Green said. “I want it to start with our senior class, and I want to start it for another 16 years in a row.”

The Buffs at one point won 16 consecutive regional tournaments.

However this season ends, Green said he hopes this won’t be his last year playing competitive baseball. He said he’d like to earn a baseball scholarship, ideally to a junior college like Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, then use that to earn another to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.

Green’s interest in OBU is twofold: 1) He wants to study digital media and arts so he can become a sports broadcaster, and OBU has a solid digital arts program; and 2) He’s an active member of First Baptist Church in McAlester and wants to go to a “Christ-driven” college.

“I started getting heavily into the church in the ninth grade,” Green said.

“I’m part of the Praise Team at my youth group at First Baptist McAlester. I play guitar, and I sing sometimes.”

Green has already started learning the tools of the trade to be a sports broadcaster. He’s a two-year member of the Buff TV station at MHS, and he said he’s spent time both in front of the camera and behind it as en editor putting together sports highlight reels.

“As soon as I got into the class, I loved it,” Green said of his Buff TV class.

“It’s the one class I look forward to every single day.”

Green said he played football for McAlester as a freshman, but since then he’s devoted himself to baseball year-round. He’s avoided offseason teams not coached by McAlester coaches, he said, because he hasn’t wanted to develop bad baseball habits or have to choose between simultaneous commitments to two teams.

For Green, life is about three things: “God, family, baseball.”

Contact Matt Goisman at mgoisman@mcalesternews.com.