Born: December 8, 1940
Town: River Edge
Garrabrant Ryerson Alyea III was born December 8, 1940, in Passaic. His father’ s family was Dutch. Brant attended Rutherford High School, where he was famous for his long home runs. He received a scholarship to Hofstra University, and played for Hofstra from 1959 to 1962. He batted right-handed and was a thickly muscled 6–5. Brant also played for the basketball team. He led Hofstra in rebounding in 1960–61.
Brant signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1962 and played one year in the minors before his contract was picked up by the Washington Senators. He slugged 56 homers in three minor-league seasons for Washington. Brant got the call to the majors in September of 1965. In his first at bat, he slugged a pinch-hit homer on the first pitch he saw from Rudy May. Fewer than 1,000 people were on hand in Washington to witness the event as the Senators were on their way to a 70–92 season. Brant hit a second homer to finish with a grand total of two.
Brant spent 1966 and 1967 in the minors, and split 1968 between Class-AAA Buffalo and the big club in Washington. Brant finally got a full-time job with the Senators in 1969. He played left and right field, clubbing 11 homers in 104 games.
In his mid-20s, Brant stayed sharp and picked up some extra money playing winter ball. He was the top home run hitter in Nicaragua in 1965–66 and set a record for home runs in the Venezuelan Winter League in 1968–69, blasting 18 in 50 games.
The following spring, Washington trade Brant to the Minnesota Twins. He got the 1970 season with a bang by slugging a pair of homers and knocking in 7 runs in an Opening Day win over the White Sox. The 7 RBIs established a new record for Opening Day. Brant’ s greatest day as a big leaguer came during a September doubleheader against the Brewers. He knocked all of Minnesota’ s runs in a 7–6 Game One win, then added two more RBIs in the second game, which the Twins won 8–3.
Brant finished what would be his best major-league season with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in just 258 at bats. His .531 slugging average was second on the team to Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. The Twins won the AL West and Brant saw action in all three playoff games against the Orioles. The Twins were swept and Brant went hitless, drawing a pair of walks.
Brant failed to hit .200 in 1971, his final year with the Twins. He split the 1972 season between the Cardinals and A’ s. It looked as if he might make the playoffs again with the A’ s, bot he tore a muscle legging out a hit in September, and spent the postseason on the DL. Brant’ s final pro season was 1973. After failing to make the Texas Rangers in Spring Training, hee played for the Red Sox’ Class-AAA team in Pawtucket, but hit just .212.
During the 1980s, baseball fans heard the name Brant Alyea again—this time it was Brant Alyea Jr. Brant had fathered the boy while playing winter ball in Nicaragua. He signed papers claiming fatherhood, and contributed some support money, but did not marry Brant Jr.’ s mother, Auda, or take his son back to the States. At the time, Nicaragua was undergoing violent unrest.
Brant Jr. eventually became a top prospect and was signed by the Blue Jays. Brant was working in an Atlantic City casino when he got the news. Father and son finally reunited in 1986 during Spring Training. Brant was amazed to see that his son used the same batting stance he had at that age. Brant Jr. reached Triple-A but never made it to the big leagues.