INDIANAPOLIS — See the guy in the red University of Indianapolis shirt? The one petting the school mascot, Grady the Greyhound? He’s the most famous college baseball player in America, at least for the past week.
Brady Ware. Name ring a bell? Chances are the answer would have been a quick no seven days ago. Back then he was merely a Division II pitcher and designated hitter, a product of NAIA Saint Katherine in California, before moving to Indiana as a grad student for one last season. Widely unknown, largely unrecognized.
Welcome to Brady Ware’s 15 minutes of fame, and actually a lot more than that.
🤯: UIndy's Brady Ware throws a no-hitter, hits for cycle in single game
See him on SportsCenter and the MLB Network.
See the gusher of texts from around the nation, so heavy that “I’m surprised my phone didn’t blow up.”
See him visiting a local high school where a couple of the kids marveled, You’re Brady Ware, I saw you on ESPN!
See him Thursday night in Victory Field at the special invitation of the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians, to throw out the first pitch. And after that, Indians manager Miguel Perez inviting Ware to accompany him to home plate to exchange the lineup cards. “I was confused. I didn’t know what he was talking about,” Ware would say later. “He asked me to go with him and I said absolutely.” Every umpire shook his hand, and so did the opposing manager of the St. Paul Saints.
Cycle. ✅— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) April 13, 2023
First Pitch. ✅ @Bradyware4444 from @UIndyBaseball can literally do it all. pic.twitter.com/dgpBIXVolF
So here’s the question. If one week ago someone would have suggested all the above would be part of Brady Ware’s life, what would Brady Ware have thought?
“I’d have walked away from you . . . no shot. No shot.”
But that was before Friday, April 7 and the second game of a doubleheader for UIndy against Drury. That’s when Ware homered and tripled in an eight-run second inning. Then doubled in the third. Then singled in the fifth. Call it hitting for the cycle in reverse. Oh, and did we mention he was pitching, too? Faster than you could say Shohei Ohtani, Ware went the distance in the seven-inning 14-0 win, struck out 11, walked five, threw 110 pitches. And gave up no hits.
A no-hitter and cycle for the same player in the same game. Never happened before in professional baseball. So far as anyone can tell, never happened before in college baseball, either. That’s why Ware was out there throwing the first pitch for the Indians Thursday night.
“It doesn’t really feel real,” he said about what the universe has been like the past week. “It feels like something that you see other people going through, but you never really expect it to be something you get to go through. But it’s been an awesome experience. It’s been a blast.”
Like being on the Pat McAfee show. Like hearing from Dallas Braden, the former Oakland A’s pitcher who once threw a perfect game on Mother’s Day. Like looking up at the scoreboard Thursday night and seeing a special taped congratulatory message from Mitch Keller, the No. 1 starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the parent club of the Indians. Like being named USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Performance of the Week, an honor normally awarded way up the food chain at the LSUs of the world.
Been going on like that ever since his last pitch was hit for a flyout to center and the messages started pouring in, including this one from his grandmother: “I didn’t know what a cycle was before today.” Every time a major outlet tracks him down – ESPN one moment, MLB the next -- he lets his family know back in California. “I don’t think they even realized the magnitude of what happened,” he said.
Nor did he at first, and there hasn't been a lot of time for perspective. UIndy's last game wasn't April 7.
“I think at the end of the day we have a long season that we’re trying to win so it’s been hard to really take a step back and take it all in," he said. "But every day I realize a little bit more and more how special it is, especially since this is my last year as a college player That could be one of the last things I get to remember as a college baseball player.”
The Greyhounds were back at it the next day after his landmark performance and Ware went 0-for-3 with a walk. Three days after that, they were caught up in what would have been the most unique game of most seasons – except for the one when a player throws a no-hitter and hits for the cycle. UIndy blew an 18-4 lead against Ohio Dominican but won 24-23 in 11 innings and 4 hours and 57 minutes. Ware had two hits and two RBI and the Greyhounds improved to 18-12.
⚾️ | Brady Ware threw a no-hitter AND hit for the cycle IN THE SAME GAME! 🔥🐾@ESPNAssignDesk x #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/6wVqkHYEbe— UIndy Athletics (@UIndyAthletics) April 7, 2023
Still, it’s one thing to accomplish something rare, and something else to go to a place were apparently no college or professional player has gone before.
“I think that’s the part that kind of sets in more every day. Maybe it’ll never happen again. Hopefully it does,” Ware said. “But you realize the more you think about it, as long as baseball has been around you’ve done something no one has ever done before."
The moment that will last the longest is watching the final out, then hugging his catcher and seeing his teammates roll toward him in a happy wave. “That’s the thing that replays through my head every day,” he said. There have been few quiet hours since.
“My pitching coach back in my last school, he was a really big proponent of -- he calls it compartmentalizing, being able to separate things going on in your life. I think as long as I can compartmentalize and keep the baseball working on the baseball side and then when I’m not at in baseball I can focus on whatever I need to do outside of baseball.”
Such as taking the mound before the Indians game Thursday night. Behind the plate was teammate Will Spear, the same player who caught his no-hitter. Nobody ever asked Ware to throw out a first pitch before, so the nervousness was understandable, even for a new arrival in the record book.
“I was very impressed with myself,” Ware said afterward. “Right down the middle.” He took the ball with him. His memorable ball collection has been growing lately.
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The UIndy season resumes with a doubleheader Friday. There Ware will be back to normal; the designated hitter with a .321 average and 24 RBI and the pitcher with a 2.76 earned run average and 26 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. But the fans in the stands and the players on the opposing team from William Jewell, they'll know.
He eventually wants to be a high school coach and has spent the past few summers back home leading a traveling team for ages 7-10. Boy, will he have a story to tell the kids this season. “I think most of them already have a good idea what’s going on. I got a lot of texts from their families out there.”
Also lots of other places.
“I think what I did is something people will remember," he said. "But I don’t really like to consider myself famous.” Maybe not. But seven unprecedented innings, and suddenly it's a very different planet for Brady Ware.