Talon Hatch | Posted: 30 Oct 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Pure Hitter Brock Hale

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Brock Hale is a pure hitter. If there is a situation where the game is on the line, Hale wants the bat in his hands.

 The 6-foot, 203-pound junior outfielder from Mesa, Arizona, led the WCC in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage for overall games this past year. He also found himself in the NCAA’s top 10 in batting averages for the majority of the season, batting with a .395 average.

Hale excels under pressure and approaches each opportunity with a firm, but quiet self-confidence. After two excellent season with the Cougars, many predicted that Hale would be drafted this past spring into the MLB. Unfortunately, to the surprise of many, Brock didn’t get the call. His confidence however, is not shaken.

“For me, it’s having a chip on my shoulder,” Hale said. “That’s what helps me get better. The challenges that come are there to help you grow. I understand that there are parts of my game that I need to improve and that’s what I’m focused on right now. I was good last year, and I’m going to be better next year.”

Hale has always been a humble, but fierce competitor.

“From the time he could walk or talk, all Brock wanted to do was play ball,” his mom Diane Hale said. “When he was about 18 months old, he would wake me up in the morning with a ball in his hand yelling ‘Ball, ball!’”

All he wanted to do as a child was catch, throw and hit baseballs. While waiting for the school bus each morning, Hale and his brother Skyler would practice pitching and hitting with their dad. When they got home, Hale was outside again for more practice.

In high school Hale was no different. He would go to baseball practice, come home and head straight for the batting cage in the backyard for a few more hours of hitting.

“People always remark on the great natural ability he has, but in a way that would bother him because he just works so hard,” Diane said. “That’s his gift. He knows that if he works harder than the rest, then he’ll be better than all the rest.”

As his high school career finished up, his dedication and hard work paid off.  Different schools had their eye on the first-team all-state player. Many schools offered Hale a spot, including his hometown Arizona State where his grandfather Lee Ferrin played baseball, a team he grew up watching and aspired to join.

But Hale would not hesitate to tell college scouts up front that he was going to serve a two-year LDS mission. He would not waiver this, despite the disapproval others. Many were baffled at his decision and warned that he would be throwing his baseball career away by serving. However, Hale was firm and put his trust in the Lord that if he was meant to play baseball, he would have the opportunity to do so.

At the end of his senior year, Hale got a call from BYU and accepted a scholarship to play baseball in Provo. After returning home from his mission to Chile, Hale remarked that becoming a Cougar was the “best decision” for him.

Being the youngest of seven, Hale’s family has been very supportive of him throughout his baseball career. Whether it was making banners during little league or updates in the family group text during his games now, they’re always cheering him on. Hale’s biggest supporter however, is his wife Emma.

“She supports me 100%,” said Hale. “She wants me to live my dream and take it as far as I can.”

The Hales have been married a little over a year and her love and support only continues to grow. They met in the student athlete building when Emma was training to walk-on the BYU swim team their freshman year and began dating a few months later. When Emma, a native of Highland, Utah, took him home to meet her immediate family, she also introduced him to her second family, the Brailsfords.

Emma grew up four doors down from the Brailsfords and visited their home almost every day. The two families are basically one family, spending holidays and birthdays together. The night Hale met the family, he fit right in with everyone, but sparked a special bond with Kurt Brailsford.

Kurt and his twin brother Kevin were both born 27 weeks early, and Kurt experienced significant long term challenges. He only has the use of his right side, some hindered cognitive abilities and has been confined to a wheelchair his whole life. Kurt can carry on a conversation and will fire away with questions as he talks with you, which leaves some individuals impatient when they first meet him. But not Brock.

“He sat there and talked with Kurt and answered every single one of his questions.” said Becky Brailsford, Kurt’s mother. “Not everyone will invest their time in Kurt. They will be polite and move on, but Brock was not one of those. He kept coming over and visiting Kurt. We knew him as a great person before we ever knew him as a great baseball player.”

Kurt, who is 24, has had increasing chronic pain as he has gotten older making it difficult for him to leave the house. The last few years, the only thing that gives him the energy to get out of the house is BYU athletics. Kurt thrives and lives for sports. Becky, a BYU alumnus, and her late husband Kevin, who tragically passed away from brain cancer six years ago, have always been big supporters and sponsors of BYU athletics. Now with the addition of Hale to their family, BYU baseball has risen to the top of the list.

When the Brailsfords came to their first game to watch Hale play, Hale immediately went Kurt to make sure Kurt knew he was excited he was there.

“He made Kurt feel important, that he was just as important as any of his friends on the team,” Becky Brailsford said. “He even asked Kurt if he wanted to have the team sign him a ball. That was the beginning of Kurt feeling like a total part of the team. Brock led the way in helping my son feel accepted.”

Whether at home or on TV, Kurt doesn’t miss a single BYU baseball game. Every home game he’s there in his No. 44 Brock Hale jersey to cheer him on and record his every at bat on his iPad. As Hale steps onto the on-deck circle, he will motion to Kurt to let him know he’s up next and to start recording. After each game, Hale makes sure to say hello and spend some time with his dear friend and number one fan.

Kurt and his family even traveled to Stockton, California to watch every game of the WCC tournament. After BYU won the tournament, Kurt got to hold the WCC championship trophy and the team hung the participant lanyard around his neck as an honorary member of the team.

Before Kurt met Hale, he was in a dark place. Limited by his health conditions, Kurt was low on morale and desire to keep fighting to live. Thankfully, that has all changed and Kurt can’t wait until baseball season starts again.

“Kurt feels important and that he has value because Brock has given him a whole new world and opportunity to feel included, something that he’s never had,” said Becky. “And our family is better because of it. He sees the big picture, that is the character that Brock has.”

As Brock enters his junior season the year with high hopes and expectations, we know that Kurt and his family will be right there to cheer him on both on and off the field.

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