BURLINGTON —One of the storylines heading into the 2-A state championship series was whether Brooks Brannon would break his father’s record for home runs in a season.
Brannon wound up being the series MVP, going 6-for-9 with four RBIs as Randleman won its second straight 2-A state championship. But his home run total remained at 20, so he shares the record with his father. Paul Brannon, who smashed 20 home runs for Kings Mountain in 1989.
Brooks tied the record on May 24 with two home runs against Community School of Davidson in Game 1 of the Western Regional championship series.
“Honestly, I think it might be even better than breaking it,” Brooks Brannon said. “That last at-bat I was thinking, ‘get out ball! Get out ball!’ It wasn’t even close. Just thankful I can stand beside him. It’s fantastic.”
There’s another school of thought.
“I wish he had broken it,” Paul Brannon said. “... If anybody was going to break it, I’d want it to be my kid.”
Ironically, this whole deal goes way back.
It has been said that Brooks told his father when he was 10 years old that he would break his home run record.
“I did,” Brooks said. “I got close. Just being young and ignorant and trash-talking. It wasn’t talked about seriously until this year.”
His father remembers that brash statement all those years ago.
“I told him he had some work to do,” Paul Brannon said.
It’s obvious he did it.
In addition to tying his father’s home run record, Brooks Brannon set state records for RBIs with 91 and hits with 70. The RBI total shattered the old mark of 62.
“My teammates get on ahead of me and behind me,” Brooks said. “It’s just as much their record as it is mine.”
Brooks Brannon’s stat line reads like this: a .609 batting average with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs in 34 games.
“It’s amazing,” Paul Brannon said. “That’s the greatest high school season ever in North Carolina, in my opinion.”
It’s a season that helped catapult Randleman to more baseball history.
“That’s pretty special for him to tie his dad’s home run record,” said Randleman coach Jake Smith. “It’s awesome for him. Some of the balls he hit today would have gone out in other ballparks and he would have had the record.”
The state championship series was played at Burlington Athletic Stadium, a former professional minor league facility.
Professional baseball could soon be in Brannon’s future. The senior catcher has signed with the University of North Carolina but is projected as an early-round pick in the upcoming first-year Major League Draft. In that sense, he would be following in his father’s footsteps some more, Paul Brannon was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners in 1990 and spent three seasons in their system.
“He works as hard as any kid his age,” Paul Brannon said. “He really loves the game. We would be sitting around not doing anything and he’d want to go hit.”
Whether it’s in the pros this summer or as a Tar Heel, Brooks Brannon will get many more opportunities to hit.
“I’m happy for him and excited for his future,” Smith said.