PERHAPS the only boo-boo of his life prevented Joe Brinkman from receiving terrific news in timely fashion.
We take you back to Dec. 15, and Brinkman, a senior at Girard Academic Music Program, is still unsure whether he'll be accepted for admittance to a local college. He has been instructed to log on to a website at 6 o'clock, and that, presto, the news will be available.
"I forgot all about the date," he said, sheepishly. "I guess that happened because I didn't think I had a chance."
At about 10 o'clock, a buddy asks Brinkman where things stand and even adds, "I guess you didn't get in, huh?"
"I said to him, 'What are you talking about?' " Brinkman said. "He reminded me and I was, like, 'Oh, I forgot!' So, I went onto the website and they had this whole presentation, a slide show. I assumed I'd see declined. But it started with 'Congratulations!!' I'm thinking, 'For what?'
"Then it hit me. I got in!! My family was pretty excited. So was I."
The 5-9, 190-pound Brinkman, a baseball/basketball player and the No. 2-ranked student in his class, said he'll be the first member of his immediate family to attend college.
And check out which one it is . . . Penn!!
"It's pretty much a complete scholarship," he said. "[I have to pay] only $1,000 a year. That's what I wanted, a college degree that I wouldn't have to pay for over the rest of my life."
Since this is mid-May, Brinkman's sports focus yesterday was on baseball, and he was able to experience quite the frolic.
As GAMP squashed visiting W.B. Saul, 15-0, in three innings, in a Public League Class A semifinal, Brinkman pitched a one-hitter and struck out five while facing only 10 batters. His hittin' highlight, in the No. 2 hole, was an RBI double in the first inning.
(Because of a mixup on the inner workings of the mercy rule, the Pioneers scored 18 runs before plate ump Anthony Pastore finally halted the game. A PIAA official, contacted by the Daily News, said the score should be recorded as 15-0. We're thinking that won't sit well with the final batter, Jake Kurtz, who must part company with a two-run double to right-center.)
GAMP lashed 12 hits, including five doubles, and the Razorbacks killed their cause with numerous misplays, both errors and bouts with poor judgment.
"Watching them in warmups," Brinkman said, "we could tell we'd just have to put the ball in play. And I could tell early [while pitching] that they wouldn't be able to do much. Just had to carry things through."
Ditto for his school experience.
Brinkman sailed through elementary and middle school, often while having to exert minimal effort, then began to have big dreams when he also fared well at GAMP.
"All my drive comes from wanting to be different," he said. "I want to have a better life, break the chain, and hopefully show the way for others [he's one of eight children; two boys].
"Once you get to the 10th grade, the counselor starts talking about what you need for college with the GPAs and SATs. I was already doing well with sports, and extracurricular activities and being a social kid; the kinds of things colleges look for. I said to myself, 'Now I really have to step up academically.' And that's what I've done."
Brinkman said GAMP's No. 1 senior is a tennis player named Alex Palmer. Final exams are still in the future. Any chance of a late switch in the order?
"No way," Joe said, smiling. "He's been way out front for a while. He's been taking two advanced placement courses every year since he was a freshman. I mean, I'm good at tests and schoolwork and with common sense. But this guy? His intellect's at the next level."
He paused, then added, "He even knows all about politics, which seems to be a bore to me."
Brinkman is a class rep for the student government and a member of the National Honor Society. Through sophomore year, before budget cuts intervened, he was a mainstay on GAMP's squad in the National Academic League.
"You answer questions, in a game-show format, about math, English history, all kinds of things," he said. "We won the city. Went to states. So much fun. I can't stand the fact that they cut it."
Also starring for GAMP were Jeff Bonvicin (3-for-3, double, four RBI), Ben Leggerie (3-for-3, double, two RBI), Jeremy Castellanos (three RBI), Kurtz (two-run single) and Dylan Anderson (2-for-2, walk, double).
For Saul, Bob Tinneny posted the lone hit, a double. He also raced in from centerfield to assume command of a messy rundown situation and made the tag for an out not far from third base.
Brinkman, who lives on Marshall Street, not far from 6th and Shunk, has not yet picked his major.
"Probably something in science or math," he said. "My thing is numbers. I'll stay away from literature."
Years from now, someone else can write his great life story.
Today on PhillyDailyNews.com: Check out the photo gallery from the game.