No-hitters are a rare feat in baseball, only occurring five other times in program history and 314 times in Major League Baseball since 1876. To throw a no-hitter, the pitcher must prevent any batters from reaching base via a hit. What makes Brownlee’s no-hitter even more impressive is the fact that his start against Lambton College was his collegiate debut. Brownlee threw 12 strikeouts in a five-inning game dismissed by Ontario Colleges Athletic Association’s (OCAA) mercy rule stating that a contest must end if a team is winning by 10 or more runs after the fifth inning. Brownlee was named both Humber and OCAA athlete of the week after his astonishing accomplishment in his rookie debut.
So, who exactly is Dalton Brownlee?
The 20-year-old baseball phenom is second-year student partaking in Humber College’s fitness and health promotion program. Brownlee’s goal is to branch off into kinesiology and find a career in the physiotherapy field; however, his dream as a baseball player is to play professionally whether it be in the MLB or in a foreign league.
The game of baseball has played a significant part in the Innisfil native’s life since the young age of three. Growing up, Brownlee truly recognized his talent as a baseball player participating in non-competitive leagues. He recalled having the best arm on his hometown team, the Innisfil Cardinals, and wanted to pursue a more competitive program.
“I always wanted to compete against the best,” Brownlee said.
After playing in Innisfil for five years, Brownlee successfully made Barrie’s AA baseball team; thus, attaining his goal to play more competitive baseball. However, young Dalton Brownlee did not stop there. His eyes were set on AAA, a tier above the AA level in which he was playing. Brownlee did not make the cut for Barrie’s AAA baseball team in his first year trying out. This tested his resilience as he said that it made him work much harder to be a better player. Brownlee would eventually prosper and make the team the following year.
Following his tenure in Barrie, Brownlee would go on to get picked to play for the Ontario Blue Jays. This prestigious baseball program is widely considered to be the best for Canadian amateurs. It attracts young players in the Greater Toronto Area looking to pursue collegiate and professional opportunities in the sport. Nine MLB players are alumni of the Ontario Blue Jays organization. “The Ontario Blue Jays take the best of the best,” Brownlee said. “That’s where I really started to specialize in pitching.”
Brownlee’s pitching arsenal includes an explosive fastball complimented by an exceptional change-up and breaking ball. His long relationship with the sport and exceptional talent made it an easy choice for Humber baseball coaches to select him as a starting pitcher. Brownlee was designated to start the Hawks’ second game of the season against the Lambton College Lions at Errol Russel Park in Sarnia, Ont.
“Coming off a big win in our first game, I wanted to be super focused especially being a new guy on the team.”
Brownlee recalled staying cool and collected while having fun in his debut. He praised his teammates for scoring several runs for him, “Everyone else was doing a great job out on the field as well.”
As the game progressed, as did the realization that a no-hitter was very possible. “It’s one of those things that no one talks about until it actually happens”, Brownlee said. As superstitions and nervousness set in, Brownlee’s focus was staying assured in his talented abilities.
“I stayed really confident in myself and at the end of the day it paid off,” Brownlee said.
Jayke Wong, Brownlee’s teammate and a third-year business major at the University of Guelph-Humber, was stunned at how incredible a rookie could be in their debut. He said, “During the game everyone was just really hyped up… right out the gate, Dalton was firing, and no one could touch him.” The 20-year-old relief pitcher from Brampton acknowledged that Brownlee’s start was easily the best rookie pitcher debut he has ever seen in his baseball career.
After the game, the team celebrated Brownlee’s achievement with words of admiration and awarding him the player of the game belt. The wrestling-inspired belt hosts the Humber Hawks logo and is awarded to the team MVP of the week. Brownlee kept the belt on display at his home and said, “That belt really meant a lot to me. As soon as I saw it, I wanted it.”
The Humber Hawks baseball team ended their season with 11 wins and three loses, ultimately capturing the OCAA silver medal. In four appearances, Brownlee finished with two wins and a loss, and an earned runs allowed of 3.00 with 32 strikeouts over 18.2 innings pitched.