The most famous foul ball in Wichita State baseball history.
WSU will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of right fielder Matt Brown’s running, jumping, tumbling, falling catch of a foul ball on April 26, 2005 at Tuesday’s game at Eck Stadium. The Shockers played Oklahoma that night in 2005 and the Sooners are again the opponent. Brown will throw out the first pitch and sign autographs.
“The roar of the crowd that we got to hear when it happened, that’s what lived with me the most,” Brown said. “It was a pretty cool moment. I’ll remember it always.”
So will many baseball fans. The play topped ESPN’s SportsCenter highlights and Brown received an ESPY nomination and a trip to the awards show. Ten years later, he runs Stewards Sports in Edmond, Okla., a baseball facility, and parents and kids know his moment of fame.
“They say ‘You’re the one that made that ESPY catch,’” Brown said.
Brown hasn’t spent the past 10 years watching that highlight. He said he had a DVD with the footage in his computer bag while at WSU. It was stolen. Only recently, when WSU put the footage on goshockers.com, did he see it again.
“They teach us to be fearless out there,” Brown said. “If you have the mind-set that you don’t want the ball, you’re probably not going to get the ball. It was one of things were everything seemed to go in slow motion.”
Brown and his wife, Tessa, and daughter Lola, 4, will come to Eck Stadium on Tuesday. He is eager to show his daughter a place that was so important to him. Brown, who played at WSU from 2005-07, retired from professional baseball in 2012. He works for an auditing company, in addition to the time he spends working with young athletes.
Brown will miss seeing former coach Gene Stephenson, fired by WSU in 2013, at Eck Stadium. The two developed a close relationship because Stephenson helped Brown through the death of his father from colon cancer in 2005, Brown’s freshman season at WSU. Stephenson visited the family after Brown signed while in high school and promised to take care of him. He did, and Brown’s teammates joked about “Papa Gene” to describe their bond.
“He treats me like a son,” Brown said. “He wanted me to come back and enjoy the moment.”
That OU-WSU game (won 7-5 by the Shockers) in 2005 produced another landmark event. Former Sooners coach Larry Cochell was fired soon after for using a racial slur in interviews with ESPN broadcasters preparing for the game.