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The Heartbeat of Y-D: Brady MacNeil

Photo: SportsPix LLC - Joe Cavanaugh
08/01/2023 10:50 AM

Article By: Mikayla Moskowitz

In any organization, there is an individual who embodies what it means to be the ultimate team player. This individual is wholeheartedly committed, fiercely passionate, and knows how to lift up others around them.

For the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, nobody embodies that spirit quite like 12-year-old Brady MacNeil.

MacNeil has been a member of the Y-D Red Sox organization since 2018. With his love for baseball and even greater love for the Y-D community, he has played an integral role in the organization for the past five years. Synchronously, he has influenced the organization in ways that transcend baseball.

With infectious energy that could light up any field and unconditional support for his teammates, MacNeil reminds coaches, players, and fans every summer what the Cape Cod Baseball League is all about.

Hand Picked

Brady MacNeil was born in Texas. His father, Dave MacNeil, hails from New England.

“When you're born in New England, it's like a birthright to be a Red Sox fan,” said Dave MacNeil.

Dave knew when they moved back up north, he wanted his son to experience a Cape Cod Baseball League game.

Brady would attend his first Y-D Red Sox game in 2018.

“We were sitting in the bleachers closest to the dugout. He's screaming and cheering for the guys coming up to bat,” said Dave MacNeil. “I look over and all the guys in the dugout are leaning on the fence and are all watching him and smiling.”

Right off the bat, Dave knew his son was a difference-maker in the dugout.

“I told him, ‘You see all these guys how happy they are watching you? Maybe they play better when they're happy and having fun,’” said Dave MacNeil.

Brady caught the attention of Head Coach Scott Pickler. When Pickler saw Brady in his Boston Celtics shorts and cowboy hat, knew there was something about him that set him apart from the rest.

Coach Pickler would call him over, hand him his baseball cap, and invite Brady into the dugout.

“He went into the dugout and he wasn’t shy at all,” Pickler said. “He met the players and talked to them.”

Coach Pickler then asked Brady to come back again the next day.

“He’s been there ever since,” said Pickler.

Over the past five years, Coach Pickler and Brady have developed a mutual admiration for one another.

For Brady, the opportunity to be under the guidance and direction of the most decorated coach in the Cape Cod Baseball League is something he never takes for granted. Brady continuously admires how Coach Picker leads the Yarmouth-Dennis organization.

“Pick brings down amazing guys from all different countries. He knows what he’s doing,” said Brady MacNeil. “I appreciate that he gets good guys and helps this team when they need it.”

Coach Picker appreciates the morale boost that Brady brings to the team night after night.

“He’s just got so much energy and so much life. He’s a character and he loves what we are doing,” said Pickler. “He’s a big part of our organization.”

Over the years, Coach Pickler has become more than just a coach in Brady’s eyes.

“Pick has taught me so much and he has helped me over the years,” said Brady MacNeil.

Dave MacNeil credits Brady’s unique role in the Y-D organization, and the special relationships they’ve built within it, to the beloved Y-D leader.

“This is all because of Coach Pickler,” said Dave MacNeil.

The way he carries himself through life, and the community he cultivates because of it, extends far beyond the Yarmouth-Dennis organization. The ability to reach people the way Brady MacNeil does can only be found in a once-in-a-generation type of talent.  

Photo: SportsPix LLC - Joe Cavanaugh

The It Factor

Dave MacNeil describes his son as having an immeasurable “it factor.”

“There's something about that kid that people want to be around,” Dave MacNeil said. “He’s someone who human beings are just drawn to.”

Brady is somebody who lives his life unapologetically true to himself.

“He's such an individual, like he is not really concerned with what other people think of him,” said Dave MacNeil.

Above all, Brady is someone who has learned from the example of his father to enjoy life and have fun.

“I always had a great sense of humor so he has a great sense of humor,” said Dave MacNeil. “He doesn't take life too seriously.”

The effect Brady has on others has drawn the attention of fans from all over. On one occasion when Dave and Brady attended a Worcester Red Sox game, a father and son sat behind them.

“We're sitting in our seats, and I overhear a father and son behind us,” said Dave MacNeil. “The father says, ‘you should have brought your Y-D hat and you could have had him sign it.’”

They were referencing Brady.

Throughout the years, Brady has become an instantly recognizable face in New England. From the grocery stores on the Cape to the middle of Boston’s Government Center at the 2018 Red Sox Championship parade, people embrace the opportunity to meet him. Over the years, Brady has become accustomed to signing autographs, taking photos, and talking with fans from all over.

“He is a local celebrity,” said Dave MacNeil. “When we go places in public, people know who he is.”

In clubhouses all around the country, from collegiate to professional, Brady has built an honorable reputation.

“You can go to Stanford and ask anyone if they know Brady from Y-D and people will say yes,” said Dave MacNeil.

While this newfound fame may be overwhelming for some, especially someone so young, Dave says it has not changed who his son is.

“It really hasn't changed him,” said Dave MacNeil. “But he's changed a lot of people.”

However, Brady MacNeil serves as more than an ambassador for the Y-D organization.

Come game time, Brady is responsible for rallying his teammates and sparking the momentum in the dugout. His presence has the power to elevate those around him. As Dave MacNeil eloquently described it, Brady serves as the emotional leader for the Y-D Red Sox.

The Brady MacNeil Effect

Brady arrives on game day with a mission.

“I normally get here right around two, stretch with the guys, go in the batting cage, work on whatever I need to do,” said Brady MacNeil.

He will participate in infield and outfield drills, shake hands with the umpires at home plate, and give the team a pregame pep talk.

Then once it’s game time, it’s go time.

“When it comes game time, then you have to be locked in,” said Brady MacNeil.

Towards the end of the game, Brady rallies the guys as they look to close the game or come from behind.

“When we are going into the eighth or ninth, that’s pretty much when me and all the guys need to get going,” said Brady MacNeil. “There’s been situations where we are in the eighth inning, down to two outs, and it’s all up to us to come up in that situation.”

Brady knows how to keep the momentum up when the team is on a high. However, his presence is the most deeply felt when the team is down. When the team needs motivation, Brady comes in to shine with words of engagement. Brady’s belief in the players comes from wholehearted respect and faith in his teammates, regardless of what the scoreboard says.

“I love this team and I try to keep the energy high and sometimes if the guys are down, when my team is in low places, I try to keep them moving. I try to keep it going,” said Brady MacNeil.

Coach Pickler sees firsthand the results it can have in the clubhouse.

“His enthusiasm is wonderful for us,” said Pickler.

Along with a pocket full of right things to say, Brady comes prepared with more things that can get the team motivated - a Red Sox lunch box full of candy that sits in the dugout every game.

While Brady does not quite recognize the gravity of his impact, current and former players do.

“He hasn’t grasped it yet, but he will someday,” said Dave MacNeil. “It’ll be amazing when he does.” 

Photo: SportsPix LLC - Joe Cavanaugh

The Ultimate Teammate

Stanford's Braden Montgomery is spending his second summer as a member of the Y-D Red Sox. Since meeting Brady in 2022, Montgomery and Brady have developed a special bond.

“I had no clue why he had so much energy or why he was so fired up about the guys, but everything he was doing I loved,” said Montgomery. “I love seeing him out here everyday. He loves the guys more than anyone knows.”

Montgomery believes that Brady gives a whole new meaning to summer baseball.

“He gets everyone engaged. He gets the whole team ready to go. With it being summer ball, it would be a lot lower energy if Brady wasn’t in the dugout with us,” said Montgomery. “He’s great for us.”

Seeing Brady’s dedication to Y-D has had a profound impact on the way Montgomery plays.

“Seeing how he took it after we lost in the playoffs last year, it really hit me kind of how much this team really means to him,” said Montgomery. “I feel like we should give that all back to him.”

When Montgomery was ultimately deciding whether to return to the Cape, Brady factored into his decision.

“He’s what makes it for me honestly. I knew a big part of it was I wanted to come back out and see Brady this summer,” said Montgomery.

Even after players leave summer ball, they are keeping Brady in mind. Christian Koss, shortstop for the Worcester Red Sox, met Brady during his first stint on the Cape.

“We were all interested and wanted to know his story,” said Koss. “Right away, he just showed love for all of us and you could tell that he wanted to be at the baseball field.”

Koss remembers experiencing all the highs and lows of summer ball and having Brady by his side through it all.

“There's times where you're probably mad or disappointed in yourself, but you'd come in the dugout and Brady being Brady says, ‘It's okay Koss, you get it the next time’ and you can tell how sincere he was. It made you feel better about the at-bat,” said Koss.

The lesson of unconditional support has continued to stay with Koss throughout his career.

“It's the positivity throughout the bad stuff happening through the game,” said Koss. “I've always tried to be that way as a player,but those two summers with him, you could tell him no matter where he had the positive mindset that we were going to win the game, that good stuff was gonna fall our way.”

Koss knows that in Brady MacNeil, he has a fan and a friend for life. His positive energy is something Koss strives to emulate with his teammates today in Worcester.

“No matter how bad we were getting beat or if you had three strikeouts that day already, he was always in your corner, ” said Koss. “It's how I try to play every day now with my teammates.”

Brady is not only fiercely loyal to his teammates, but to the entire Y-D Red Sox organization as a whole.

“It’s amazing to know that it’s not just the fans but the whole Y-D staff that has our back and I have their back,” said Brady MacNeil.

However, no matter who he has shared the dugout with, Brady has confidence in every single player that comes through the Cape.

“I have high hopes for every single one of these guys in this league,” said Brady MacNeil.

No Place Like Home (Plate)

For the MacNeil family, South Yarmouth is home. Dave has watched Brady grow up right before his eyes over the years, surrounded by teammates who have become his big brothers.

“The Y-D Red Sox family is what we're a part of. It is the most amazing thing in our lives. It really is the biggest thing in his life, which makes it the biggest thing in my life,” said Dave MacNeil. “We just love being a part of it.”

No matter where life takes the MacNeil family in the future, Dave and Brady will always cherish the days spent at the ballpark.

“The greatest memories of his childhood are from here at Red Wilson Field,” said Dave MacNeil.

The Heartbeat of Y-D

Brady MacNeil is a one-of-a-kind teammate who brings a sense of community and belonging wherever he goes.

“He makes our team understand what Yarmouth is about. The town rallies around this and they rally around him,” said Pickler.

Who Brady is, a testament to how his father raised him, has earned the unwavering respect and adoration of players, coaches, umpires, and fans from all across the Cape Cod Baseball League and beyond.

Brady serves as a constant reminder that relationships built through the game have the power to go beyond baseball. At the end of the summer, players and fans may or may not remember how many home runs were hit on the Cape, but they remember how Brady made them feel.

“It was a good summer knowing that Brady was in our dugout with us,” said Koss

A son, a teammate, a friend, and baseball-loving kid, who believes in those around him no matter how many times they go down swinging, is the heart and soul of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

He will continue to show others that the outfield isn’t the limit and that life is about who you bring on your team. Above all, he will continue to build up those around him into better players, teammates, fans, and people.

No matter where he goes or what he does in life, one thing will remain for certain: Brady MacNeil will always knock it out of the park.

“To witness as a parent, to see what he's done and who he is, is remarkable,” said Dave MacNeil. “It's the best job you can ask for and I've gotten lucky as a parent to have that kid. He is one in a million.”