By Michael Leavy
Greater Morristown is an area rich with families and traditions. One family tradition continued this month at the 2018 Little League Dinner, where Brendan Brunnock followed in the footsteps of his two brothers to win the Tommy Mischiara Sportmanship Trophy.
The trophy, awarded annually since 1958, is given to the graduating Little Leaguer who has shown the highest quality of sportsmanship, leadership, attitude and ability on and off the field.
Brothers Ryan and Collin won the award previously. Ryan, an assistant coach, introduced Brendan for the award, citing his dedication to his team and the sport.
“What really separated him was his attitude,” Ryan said at the Hyatt Regency Morristown. “As a 10-year-old in the majors, his coaches asked him to catch. He welcomed it with open arms by watching old videos of Pudge Rodriguez. When he was asked to bat leadoff, he worked the count, fouled off pitches, and went with the attitude a walk is as good as a hit.”
Ryan also cited his brother’s selflessness and team-first spirit.
“When I was in college, I would call him after his game and I would ask how he did. All Brendan would talk about is how his teammates did and whether they won or lost… I would ask, but what about you? He would then tell me, “Oh, I was three-for-four with a double and a triple, but so-and-so made a really nice play.”
Ryan also recalled coaching a game where Brendan hit a ball to the warning track. The outfielder, who was younger than Brendan, made a tough over-the-shoulder catch.
“Brendan couldn’t have been happier for him, even if it was a loss” for his team, Ryan Brunnock said.
One of Brendan’s coaches, Bob Costello, was thrilled for him. “Brendan is a great kid, he loves playing and never gets too upset about anything. He’s able to play any position on the field. He encourages his teammates and is happy to be out there playing. Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do his best.”
Keith Chestnut, president of the Morristown National Little League, said Brendan and his family continue a tradition of local Little League baseball that Chestnut’s uncle helped start nearly 70 years ago.
“It just shows the long legacy that Morristown National has,” Chestnut said.
Brendan was happy with the award.
“It was definitely a goal, and my brothers definitely wanted me to win,” said the Morris Township youth, noting he would have taken plenty of ribbing at home if he had fallen short.
While Brendan will miss Little League, he’ll carry forward some of its lessons. “I learned to have a good attitude and good body language.”
And he won’t have to tiptoe into Ryan’s room anymore to abscond with his brother’s trophy. He’s got one of his own now.