Schuckman: Hawks’ Boynton pours heart, soul, tears into chasing baseball dreams


Quincy University center fielder Brock Boynton, right, celebrates a teammate's home run during a game against Lewis earlier this season at QU Stadium. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The emotion spills out in ways Brock Boynton can’t always contain.

Sometimes it’s a bat flip that goes a little too high or a little too far. Other times it’s the barbaric yawp everyone hears as he rounds the bases on a home run trot. And every now and then, it’s the toss of his helmet to let out his frustration.

“I’m a big football guy here,” said Boynton, the Quincy University baseball team’s fifth-year center fielder. “The difference with football is it’s a whole different type of emotion. You can play with that idea of, ‘I’m going to knock that dude’s head off that dude’s body.’

“With baseball, you have to have the nice, relaxed, calm demeanor where it’s like, ‘I’m not going to grip that baseball bat so tight.’ It’s a whole different emotion. But when people say baseball is boring, no, it’s not. You have to bring that energy. You have to bring that spirit. You have to bring that hype.

“That’s the type of player, teammate, leader that I am.”

And he’s the type of son who sees the sacrifices his parents have made to allow him to chase his baseball dreams and lets his appreciation spill out in the tears that trickle down behind his sunglasses.

“The biggest supporters,” Boynton muttered as he choked up. “My biggest supporters.”

Brad and Stephanie Boynton leave Mishawaka, Ind., every Thursday or Friday for a six-hour drive to Quincy or wherever the Hawks may be playing. Armed with her camera, Stephanie chronicles every weekend series in pictures. Standing at or near the top of the bleachers, Brad assesses and reassesses the play on the field.

His booming voice travels, sometimes taking the umpires to task but always providing the Hawks with a supportive slap on the back.

“My dad’s always going to be our biggest supporter,” Brock Boynton said. “I will always tell people that if you can’t listen to how he’s saying it, at least listen to what he’s saying. Don’t take it personal. The dude loves this game too much. It’s the same emotion I have. That’s where it comes from.”

When you watch both of your parents work thoroughly and diligently enough the first four days of the week to get all tasks completed so they can spend the weekend at the ballpark, it sends home a strong message.

That’s to chase your dreams with everything you can.

“Both of my parents are very hard-working people,” Boynton said. “Quincy baseball is a very blue-collar type of culture. Put your nose down and just work. To me, it’s just a lifestyle.”

It’s why he chose to come back.

Following last year’s 47-win season — the most victories in a single season in program history — Boynton could have walked away. He graduated with a degree in sports management, but he chose to return for his final season of eligibility as a graduate student

“The culture, my buddies, just the sacrifices to make this happen, that’s what brought me back,” said Boynton, who is hitting .278 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs this season and is a career .298 hitter. “I wanted to come back and be that leader and lead this team to yet another GLVC championship and after that see what happens.

“I wouldn’t have come back for my fifth year if I wasn’t driven.”

That’s needed now more than ever.

The Hawks open their final regular season series at 3 p.m. Thursday against Illinois-Springfield at QU Stadium. Quincy (21-25, 18-14 GLVC) currently is tied for fifth in the GLVC and is one of five teams vying for four spots in the GLVC Tournament.

Chasing another championship ring is one of the reasons he returned. A pure love for the game is the other.

“At the end of the day, I’m 23 years old and some people would say it’s time to turn the page and go out and look for a job,” said Boynton, who got engaged to Lizzie Lightner last August and had her full support in coming back for one more season. “Then there’s people who say play the game as long as you can.”

Boynton will try to do that when this season ends.

“I’m going to be playing professional baseball somewhere in this country,” Boynton said.

He’s confident an opportunity will arise.

“I trust in the type of defender I am,” said Boynton, who has committed just two errors in 106 defensive chances this season. “I know my baseball IQ is there. I know my bat-to-ball skills are there. I pride myself on being that blue-collared guy in the box and on the field. I know my work ethic is there.”

Boynton and the Hawks have to work to keep this season going as long as possible.

“The brotherhood of all nine guys having to click is what I love,” Boynton said. “And really, it’s not just nine. It’s 13 because whoever has to be ready out of the bullpen. You all just have to click as one. Who is going to pick who up? Who is going to be the next guy’s biggest supporter?”

It will be the guy willing to rattle cages, scream out loud and bear his heart for all to see, even if his sunglasses cannot fully conceal the tears he sheds.

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