The Brush High School baseball team will dedicate its upcoming season to junior Alec Kornet, who died after collapsing during hockey practice on Feb. 14.
Kornet was the baseball team’s starting second baseman and despite his tragic passing, the team will travel to Tampa, Fla., for a tournament on March 25 and attend the March 28 spring training game between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers, where Alec’s parents, Scott and Stephanie Kornet of South Euclid are expected to throw out the first pitch. Alec’s younger brother, Michael, is also a member of the baseball team.
David Gordon, one of the parents organizing the Tampa trip, said the trip had been planned since before Alec’s death and the Kornets wanted the team to go on Alec’s behalf.
“He’ll be missed and he’ll always be a part of our team,” Gordon said. “Baseball was Alec’s game and he was excited about going on the trip.”
Frank Iacobucci of South Euclid said he coached Alec in summer baseball leagues with his son, Tyler, and knows the Kornets well. He said he spoke with the Kornets and Alec’s grandparents, Betty and Dr. Leslie Greenberg who live in Beachwood and attend Temple Emanu El in Orange, and they were 100 percent on board with the trip going on as planned.
“Scott doesn’t want this to be a memorial trip for the boys,” Iacobucci said, adding that there would be some memorial things happening during the trip, likely including a moment of silence during the team’s first game in Tampa. “They don’t want (the mourning) to be a daily thing, they don’t want it to be a sad trip.”
Iacobucci said the Yankees were chosen because the team’s spring camp was closest to where the Brush baseball team will be playing, but said Alec was a fan of baseball in general.
Brush assistant varsity baseball coach Scott Paluscsak, who is family friends with the Kornets and also coached Alec and Michael’s older brother, Matthew, said the trip will be a chance for the team to heal after the tragedy.
“I think it will be a little emotional but it will be good emotional,” he said. “We’ll all be together, be able to lean on each other and see the family doing something Alec loved. He was a baseball guy, it was his first love. I think they all need a little time away, to be outside and concentrating on baseball. Our team has gotten closer because of it and they’re all looking forward to the trip.”
Paluscsak said there was still a shock factor to Alec’s death, even more than a month later.
“I still don’t believe it, I would see him every day in the school halls and we’d talk daily,” he said. “I’ve known him since he was a little boy and I’m still waiting for him to walk around the corner and talk to me. He was an amazing kid.”
The Brush baseball team will wear a circular patch that reads “4Alec” and Paluscsak said Alec’s jersey No. 4 won’t be worn by Brush High School baseball players at any level this year, though he hopes the number will be permanently retired. He also said the team will likely line up for its first home game back in Ohio without a second baseman for a pitch in honor of their late teammate.
More information about the Brush baseball team’s trip and season is at arcsbaseball.com.