RIP to Tyson Brummett, who pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies for one game in 2012. He and three other people were killed on July 3 in a private plane crash in American Fork Canyon, north of Alpine, Utah. Brummett was 35 years old. According to the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate, the other victims of the accident were Alex Blackhurst Ruegner, 35, and his aunt and uncle, Elaine Blackhurst, 60, and Douglas Blackhurst, 62.
The Gephardt Daily reported that the plane was a 1975 fixed-wing, single-engine Cessna 172M. A cause of the accident has not been determined as of this time. Authorities said that Brummett was the pilot of the plane. According to his LinkedIn page, he had been a certified flight instructor for seven months. Flying was in his blood, as his father, Jeff, was a pilot for Delta Airlines.
Tyson Colby Brummett was born on August 14, 1984 in Columbus, Miss. However, he grew up in Utah and attended Spanish Fork High School. As a third baseman and pitcher, he was a four-year letterman for baseball, and he also earned two varsity letters in football as a wide receiver. He was two outs away from a no-hitter in 2003 against Timpview HS. The San Francisco Giants drafted Brummett in the 35th Round of the 2003 Amateur Draft, but he declined to sign. The Giants tried again the next year, picking him in the 38th Round of the 2004 Draft while Brummett was attending Central Arizona Community College. He again did not sign.
“It would have taken a pretty good chunk of money to get me out of school, and what they offered wasn’t a big enough chunk of money,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going back to school. I’m just going to keep all my options open.”
In two years at Central Arizona, Brummett had a 7-7 record and 7 saves. He struck out 102 batters in 114-1/3 innings. He also spent two seasons in the summer Northwoods League, playing for the Mankato Moondogs in 2005 and 2006. His ERA of 1.40 in ’06 was fourth-best in the league. He transferred to UCLA for his junior and senior years and became the Bruin’s ace in his senior year of 2007. According to the UCLA Sports website, Brummett made 18 starts for the team, all of which were series openers. He earned All-Pac-10 team honors and was the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week three times. The Phillies drafted Brummett in the Seventh Round of the 2007 Amateur Draft, and this time, he signed and started his professional career. The wait definitely paid off for him.
“I got good coaching, I’ve worked hard and matured a lot more,” he said about his development as a pitcher. “It seems like every year I’ve been able to add one or two miles an hour to my fastball just by working hard and by good coaching.”
“He was pretty much a fastball and breaking pitch pitcher when he came here,” said UCLA Baseball coach Jack Savage. “Now he has an above-average changeup and a slider. Now he’s ready to go out and compete and be successful, and I think he’s going to continue that success in pro ball.”
Brummett joined the Williamsport Crosscutters in the New York-Penn League and went 5-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 15 games. Though the team was watching his pitch count, he managed 1 complete game and ended the season with 55 strikeouts in 76-2/3 innings. He pitched for three different minor-league teams in 2008 but saw the most success with the Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League. He had 3 wins and a 1.95 ERA in 6 starts. He made it as high as AA Reading and threw 8 shutout innings before tiring in the ninth in his debut there.
Brummett had a fastball that reached 92 or 93 miles per hour and picked up a fair share of K’s, though he didn’t consider himself a strikeout pitcher. He was the first player in the Phillies’ 2007 draft class to reach AA, but he struggled there and admitted the multiple teams had been mentally taxing at times. Still, the Phillies were high on him.
“We like his ability to throw three or four pitches for strikes and use both sides of the plate,” said Reading manager P.J. Forbes.
The 2009 Reading Phillies had starting highly touted pitchers like Vance Worley on their staff, but Brummett was given the Opening Day assignment. He made it to AAA later that year for a spot start for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He spent the next couple of seasons moving between AA and AAA, while occasionally pitching winter ball in Arizona or Venezuela. The Phillies organization began using him more frequently as a reliever than a starter. He appeared in 30 games for Reading in 2011, including 11 starts.
Brummett appeared in a total of 44 games between AA and AAA in 2012. He had a fine 3.20 ERA in 8 starts and 36 relief appearances, but he was not part of the Phillies’ September call-ups. At the end of the season, he returned to Salt Lake City with his family. After taking a little time off, he started ramping up his pitching regimen to prepare for the Venezuelan Winter League. He threw bullpen sessions at the University of Utah, but he was not expecting the phone call he got from the Phillies player development director Joe Jordan.
“Hey, you want to come help us out at the big-league level in the bullpen?” he asked, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
“Absolutely,” Brummett replied, and he soon found himself in a Phillies uniform in Washington D.C., as the team closed out its 2012 season against the Nationals. It came down to the final inning of the final game of the season, but Brummett made his major-league debut on October 3. Jonathan Papelbon started the ninth inning by walking Ryan Zimmerman and surrendering a 2-run homer to Mike Morse. After striking out Tyler Moore, Brummett was summoned from the bullpen.
The first two batters he faced, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinoza, both singled. Brummett had thrown three major-league pitches and had two runners on base. He settled down by striking out Jesus Flores swinging on three pitches. He then got Chad Tracy to a 2-2 count before getting him swinging as well. The Phillies lost the game 5-1, and Brummett was the eighth Phillie to make his major-league debut that season.
“It was a big one,” Brummett said after his debut. “I was real nervous to get out there… It played out the way it did and I got the opportunity. I liked it. A lot.”
Brummett’s Phillies career came to an abrupt end a couple of weeks later when the Toronto Blue Jays claimed him off waivers. Aside from one start with AAA Buffalo, where he was knocked out of the first inning, he spent the 2013 season with the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. He signed with the Dodgers in the offseason as a minor-league free agent and spent 2014 with the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. He was 4-5 with a 2.79 ERA as a starter in his final professional season. Brummett was named to the Southern League’s All-Star Team, which was the first time he had ever received that honor.
After his playing career ended, Brummett worked as a pitching instructor in Park City, Utah, for the Skullcandy Crushers. He then spent almost three years with inContact, a software company in the Salt Lake City area, before becoming a flight instructor this year.
Brummett had a 31-60 record and a 4.50 ERA in eight seasons in the minor leagues. His major-league totals were limited to that one appearance, with 2/3 of a scoreless inning. However, that’s one more game than most professional baseball players ever get. And every single out he ever recorded was via the strikeout, which is an impressive accomplishment.
Two months ago, Brummett participated in a “Goggles for Docs” program, which collects ski or snowboard goggles and delivers them to frontline workers battling the Coronavirus pandemic. He and a friend and fellow pilot delivered 270 pairs of goggles from Utah to Santa Monica, reported the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association).
“I decided to get involved with Goggles for Docs because my sister is a nurse here in Utah and she expressed the huge need” for personal protective equipment (PPE), Brummett said. “My buddy Nick [Henderson-Williams] works at the [Salt Lake City] Cirrus Training Center and with help from the owner who is very charitable secured us an airplane to help deliver the goggles.
“It’s amazing the places aviation can take us and the impact we can have when we help others,” he added.
For more information: Gephardt Daily