WNY Athletics

Good Karma comes for Kantz

There are countless stories of people young and old stepping up to help others during the Covid pandemic.

Brendan Kantz’s story ended with him pitching to one of baseball’s top prospects.

The Amherst Baseball player was simply looking to get people’s spirits up after a grueling first couple of months of the pandemic. So, he and his dad teamed up with the Amherst Central Little League for a baseball equipment drive in the fall of 2020.

The results were astonishing.

Kantz collected more than 70 bats, 50 mitts, 40 batting helmets, 70 pairs of cleats, 80 pairs of baseball pants, 20 equipment bags and eight sets of catcher’s gear.

“I knew people were going to support…me and my dad we went out to Central Amherst Little League,” Kantz said. “We were there for four or five hours and people just kept coming and coming. We drove home with three truckloads of stuff. It still blows my mind today how many people came out to support.”

The Buffalo Police Athletic League took everything – except the cleats.

And the Kantzs didn’t want to keep six dozen pairs of cleats in their garage for too long.

But Brendan wanted to make sure they were going to the right place.

The now senior, who has always had a soft spot for international baseball found Baseball Without Borders, a non-profit which provides equipment, scholarships and other opportunities to kids in the Dominican Republic.

“It was a tougher decision than I actually thought because there are so many (charities) and I really wanted to make sure it was one that would really appreciate it,” he said.

Kantz shipped the cleats to Baseball Without Borders in late November/early December 2020 and thought that would be the end it.

However, a few months later he got an email with an opportunity of a lifetime – a week-long trip to Boca Rica, Dominican Republic to do some service work and play baseball with some high school players from across the U.S. against some independent Dominican academy teams.

So Kantz and his younger brother, Patrick, went down in late July

“It was a baseball trip but to me it was more,” Brendan said. “Baseball was second. I wanted to go down there and meet the communities. It was the real experience.”

“It was interesting seeing what it’s like down there,” Patrick said. “Seeing the differences between baseball here (the U.S.) and there (Dominican Republic).”

Everywhere they went they saw kids of all ages playing baseball.

One of the memories that sticks out came at a small neighborhood ballpark. Brendan was standing the dugout and three kids, who he estimates were maybe four or five years old, came up and asked for his mitt. He graciously gave it to them and watched as they worked on funneling, a fielding technique that Kantz says is fairly advanced.

“I only learned to funnel to field a ground ball like two or three years ago and the kid immediately put on the glove and he starts funneling,” Kantz says “I’m like I was taught to start doing that two years ago and these 4-year-olds already have faster hands then I do.”

The trip also gave the Amherst senior the opportunity to square off against some of the top talent in the world.

On the day the group arrived at the Paulino Baseball Academy, it was Kantz’s turn to take the mound.

And his reward, one he never would’ve dreamed of, for holding the equipment drive was fulfilled when No. 1-ranked international prospect Roderick Arias, who signed with the New York Yankees back in January, stepped into the batter’s box.

Kantz’s coach pointed Arias on the field before the game as someone who was really good – he didn’t know the full extent until afterward. He got ahead on Arias with a 1-2 count and threw a fastball. The shortstop hit the ball nearly 400 feet on a line with a wooden bat.

“I watched it and I’m like ‘oh my goodness'” Kantz said. “We were all talking to him afterward. I was able to get a picture and talk with him a bit. He was awesome.”

When he got home, Kantz proudly showed off the video of Arias crushing his fastball to all his friends.

Brendan Kantz (RHP) two ABs vs. Roderick Arias at Paulino Baseball Academy, San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic, July 29, 2021

“I was not surprised because good things happen to good people,” Amherst coach Brian Davis said. “I feel like that was somebody’s way of thanking Brendan for everything he had done.”

Davis has known Kantz since his little and took part in the camp he runs at Central Amherst Little League. Kantz later helped coach it.

The senior, who is supposed to be in his third season on the Varsity, is the ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff and plays shortstop when he’s not on the mound.

Kantz is getting ready to attend John Carroll University in the fall where he plans to study how sports and athletes influence social justice movements.

His mentality in life is ‘We not Me’.

“Helping out others before helping out myself is important to me,” Kantz says. “I think the Dominican trip was huge. It was just a week down there helping people out not having to worry about anything about myself, just being able to help the community out and making relationships.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *