Brandon Rembert and his teammates stepped onto the Alcorn State University baseball field for a normal preseason practice day. The team had not originally intended to practice because it had rained the day before and the athletes did not want to damage the field. Nevertheless, Rembert stepped up to the plate, hit a line drive down into right field and took off down the first-base line.
The senior had just rounded the corner to second when he felt his hamstring give and he collapsed onto the ground. His teammates had to carry him off the field. Rembert later learned that he had suffered a significant hamstring sprain.
Over the next few months, Rembert tried to rush his return to the field. Due to COVID protocols, however, the team was playing a shortened season. He had hopes of playing professionally after garnering some notoriety the previous season. This year was supposed to be his breakout season. Each time he would rush back to the field, though, he would reaggravate the injury, and his coach benched him again. Pretty soon, Rembert realized that his dreams of playing professional baseball were over.
“I think he missed the first half of those games, so he probably played in the last 12 games that we played,” former Alcorn baseball coach Brett Richardson told the Mississippi Free Press. “And you know, although he gave it his all (and) he did the best he could, he was never 100%. That injury, I think, really had a big, big effect on the player that he could have been.”
The Pensacola, Fla., native took some time to regroup after graduating in December 2021 with a master’s degree in athletic administration and coaching. He worked as an assistant coach at his former high school and as a head coach of a 9U travel team for a few months, but he wanted to do more. Rembert reached out to Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program Senior Director Tyrone Brooks about other options within the sport. Brooks had visited Alcorn and given presentations about working in baseball while Rembert was still a student.
“He would always come talk to the teams and give them information on how they could get into baseball other than just playing if they wanted to continue on that side of it,” Richardson said. “Whether it was on the scouting side of it, whether it was in the front office, whether it was with field maintenance or whatever it was, (the opportunity) was there. There’s life after baseball other than playing baseball if you want to stay with the game.”
Brooks eventually passed Rembert’s résumé on to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I wanted to see what was out there and see what he had to say,” Rembert said. “He helped me a lot with getting interviews with other teams and ultimately getting me an interview with the Pirates. … It was that connection and that relationship that I had with Tyrone Brooks that really catapulted my career and gave me a little jumpstart.”
‘They Belong in Baseball, Too’
The Pittsburgh Pirates hired Rembert as Minor League Baseball operations assistant. He worked primarily with the Low-A affiliate Bradenton Marauders collecting video and data, assisting with player development, and other administrative responsibilities. He worked with first-round draft picks like Termarr Johnson and Paul Skenes and spent time at the Pirates’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.
Rembert is now on a mission to show HBCU graduates and more African Americans that Major League Baseball may have a space for them, should they pursue it.
“There’s so many opportunities out there to work in professional baseball,” Rembert said. “I want them to know they belong in the room, too. They belong in baseball, too. They can do it. Just put in the work and maximize your time.”
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida noted that Black players represented only 7.2% of all MLB players at the start of the current season. Less than 10% of coaches and 6.1% of MLB Central Office staff were Black or African American. Richardson, now an assistant coach at his alma mater Florida A&M University, said he is glad to see Rembert reaching back to encourage other HBCU graduates.
“I feel like it is a little bit more difficult for African Americans to get into because we don’t get a whole lot of experience or chances to get into that side of baseball,” Richardson said. “Honestly, other than HBCU, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities for African Americans inside of baseball. … Hopefully, guys like Brandon can make a way for other guys to get involved.”
After two seasons, the 25-year-old recently received a promotion to the amateur scouting department for the Pirates, where he will be a video assistant and development scout. He wants each step of his journey to be inspiring for the next generation of HBCU graduates.
“Ultimately, I want to have a long career and pave the way for other African Americans and other HBCU students that want to get in the game,” Rembert said. “I’m still young; I’m still 25; so I have a lot to learn. I’m still working my way up to the bottom, but I want to continue to rise and make an impact.”