Burke Broussard held up two fingers and dropped his head slightly, knowing the response could make him look like one of those overzealous parents whom every coach dreads.
“We started doing fielding drills as soon as I started to walk,” Brandt Broussard said, flashing a wry smile as he looked toward his father. “It’s something we always did in our backyard, at Forest Park or wherever he coached.”
Fathers and sons play catch all the time. The Broussards aren’t the first coach-son duo to share baseball dreams that started when the son was a 2-year-old.
But ground balls and the dreams that go with them can be elusive. Their context gets lost through time. But if you’re lucky — and the Broussards are — the context finds you. Things fall into place, just like it does when a baseball nestles securely into a glove.
“All I could do was share my experiences from when I went to Omaha in 1986,” said Burke, the former University High baseball coach. “For my son to go play in the JUCO World Series 30 years after I played in Omaha — that’s amazing to me, just amazing. It went beyond my wildest dreams, really.”
It’s the reality the father and son shared when Delgado Community College advanced to the Division I Junior College World Series last month in Junction City, Colorado.
Jokes about a Father’s Day gift that came a month early were appropriate. As Burke fondly recalls the spring in which his son batted .359, it’s fair to ask whether this is some parallel time continuum.
The elder Broussard, a slick-fielding second baseman, started his college career at Louisiana-Lafayette and played one season at Eastern Oklahoma Junior College before joining the first LSU team to advance to the College World Series in 1986.
A 26-year baseball coaching career followed for the Crowley native, with stops at St. John, Plaquemine and U-High. He won 487 games and got to coach his son.
“I could tell right away (Brandt) had some good natural ability,” Burke recalled. “He could always throw and catch. Good hand-eye coordination. We worked on a lot of things small kids didn’t work on, but he could handle it at a young age.”
Brandt’s high school career ended in 2014 with a loss to John Curtis in the Class 3A state semifinals. He accepted an invitation to walk on at Nicholls State but never netted any playing time in 2015.
The decision to move to Delgado made sense. Brandt was growing physically, adding 3 inches and 20 pounds since high school. That was something his father had done, but it brought out insecurities in his son.
“When I first got to Delgado, I’d stand at the back in scrimmages and I felt uncomfortable,” Brandt said. “I’d never felt uncomfortable in my life on a baseball field. That hurt my confidence, and it took me a little while to get to the point where I wanted the ball hit to me. On the college level, everyone is as good as you. I thought I worked hard in high school. When you get to college, if you want to play and be successful, you have to work even harder.”
Work is what the younger Broussard did. He started the season splitting time at second base with Jace Nini, also a starting pitcher for the Dolphins. Coincidentally, at LSU, his father split time with Andy Galy.
That work ethic prompted teammates to select Brandt as a team captain. A full-time starting role came in time as he started 32 of the 38 games he played. The climb to .359 was at times slow. His batting average jumped from .270 to .308 after a mid-April series against Snead State and continued climbing.
“There was never any question about the work ethic,” Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann said. “The more Brandt got a chance to play, the better he got. When I decided to put him in the lineup every day, we became a better team. This might sound like a bit of a stretch, but I’d compare him to Cole Freeman, who played second base for us and is at LSU. Now he’s not as fast as Cole — few people are — but a lot of the other qualities are the same.”
Pursuit of a degree in chemical engineering also is on Brandt’s mind. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound second baseman will continue chasing baseball dreams during a second year at Delgado and then hopefully at a four-year school.
“I’m proud of how much he has fought and learned to love the game more,” Burke said, ever wary of the context. “All players don’t feel that way. Some walk away from baseball.
“This is quite a ride for all of us, and I can’t wait to see where it leads Brandt next.”