Benjamin Smalls it is.
Heritage High’s baseball team guaranteed itself a winning season Tuesday night with an 8-1 win over Harmony, but it also earned a guarantee from coach Rob Querry and wife Julia. Their son, due in September, will take the name chosen by the Panthers themselves: Benjamin Smalls Querry.
Julia, the mom surprised by husband Rob’s now-famous offer to his players to win baby-naming rights at 14 victories, drew a roar from the team when she announced in the post-game celebration, “Oh, I’m doing it.”
Now 14-7, the Panthers are assured the first winning baseball season in Heritage’s seven-year history, and pitcher Garrett Underwood’s performance — along with a seven-run second inning — assured the win. Underwood pitched a complete game and struck out eight Longhorns.
Senior first baseman Michael Archer insisted the team isn’t finished reaching goals.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “We plan on going further than we have before. We’ve been working hard, grinding together.”
They’ve also been giving interviews and enjoying more exposure than the average high school baseball team.
“This is something these kids will be talking about for the next 50 years,” Heritage athletics director Greg McGrew said. “It sure has added a lot of excitement around here.”
Since FLORIDA TODAY published the story about the challenge last week, it has spread across the country, and the Panthers have been on national TV (NBC’s Today Show). Monday, they met David Mickey Evans, the screenwriter of the cult-sports classic, The Sandlot, from which the team combined the names of two characters: Bennie “the Jet” and Scotty Smalls.
After Saturday’s live interview with NBC, Julia Querry, not yet fully sold on the name, admitted one advantage of accepting the recommendation would be the eventual ease of answering the boy’s curiosity.
“When he asks how he was named, I’ll just tell him to Google it.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_McCallum and at facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum.