A group of us friends, who’ve known each other since Little League and are now in our chubby mid-forties, get together a couple of times a year to reminisce and embellish stories about our playing days. Funny thing is, we don’t talk as much about our accomplishments in high school or college as we do about our years on the Brandy’s Boyz baseball rec team. We were in our early-twenties and loved to compete and we enjoyed beating the brains out of all takers. We were good and we reveled in our rec league greatness (as embarrassing as it is to say that). In any case, our friendships remain steel strong all these years later because of one person’s vision… Brandy.

Brandy was many things; son, brother, friend, baseball player (catcher), DJ, party originator extraordinaire. But, most importantly, he was the reason for Brandy’s Boyz. He was the glue and driving force behind our men’s 23-and-older baseball team that played at Redmond High’s Hartman Park. Sadly, Brandy was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-90’s and passed away in 1999. In honor of our friend, we renamed our team Brandy’s Boyz and played the next 10 years glorifying his legacy.

Fast forward to October 2015 at Willow’s Run Golf Course where a group of us gathered for an afternoon of golf debauchery. Near the end of the round, in various states of sobriety (I’ll plead the Fifth on that), someone suggests we have a little Juanita HS vs. Lake Washington HS (Rebels vs. Kangs) competition. We agree to play a best ball hole. Losers have to smell the armpit of the victor. Not a quick and get out sniff, but a long, deeply inhaled, nose tucked in the darkest recesses kind of snort. To say the least, there was a lot on the line.

The Rebels teed off first and our shots were so good that the Kangs were nearly ready to admit defeat as their tee shots careened wildly out of bounds. Our second shots put the Rebs within 9 feet of the cup, while the Kangs’ second swings… well, they left them with a mild-breaking 45-footer.

Based on the math (calculated by Juanita grads, so it’s clearly not right), the Rebs had a 74.9% chance of winning the hole and avoiding the dreaded pit sniff. The Kangs took a long, scared look at the impossible putt. Defeat was in their eyes. Their last hope, Don, stood over the ball. He was clearly shaky and mumbling something incoherent while practicing yoga techniques to stretch his head and neck to reach his own pit.

The Rebs were in victory formation as Don brought forward his wobbly putter and somehow made solid contact. We all stood mesmerized as the ball rolled across the green toward the hole. Time slowed as the ball neared the target. I was thinking, “There is no freaking way this is going in AND, if it does, there’s no freaking way I’m stickin’ my nose in anyone’s pit!”

The ball crept to the edge of the hole and, lo and behold, dropped to the bottom of the cup. The Kangs had snatched improbable victory away from a dejected and now humbled Rebel squad. One Kang was so elated he screeched out like a 12-year-old girl at a One Direction concert. Don was the consummate professional, calmly walking to the cup to retrieve his ball, just like he’d been there before.

I have to admit that the Kangs’ pure emotion and unbridled excitement after that putt, culminating in a herculean yell, was probably the best part of the day. That competitive nectar is what we’ve all chased together and enjoyed over our many years as friends. Those moments are part of what keeps us close after all this time. Despite losing, I was glad to witness and be a part of it.

Of course, no one did the armpit scratch-n-sniff, but based purely on the sight of my friends celebrating, I admit, I may have considered it.

John Burke
Associate, Juniper Capital