Brian Kownacki was just looking for a way to cross home plate and deliver a win for Fordham’s baseball team when he made the leap that made him an Internet star.
He knew his options were limited, so he wanted to find a solution. He did – leaping, head over heels, over the catcher.
In a matter of seconds, the sophomore saved the April 20 game against Iona, shocked the opposing team by scoring a run from the air, and created the footage that’s sweeping sites from YouTube to sports blogs and beyond.
It turns out the player in the clip with the flip is from Connecticut. Kownacki's parents live in Orange and he perfected his game at Amity High School.
His dream is to play for the Major Leagues and that flip might have landed him one step closer. His head over heels stunt on the field has left everyone spinning.
"Anything Brian does that’s phenomenal doesn’t surprise me,“ his high school ice hockey coach, Gary Lindgren, told his parents.
“He's always been pretty good at coming up with things like that,” Brian’s father, Bob, said.
Brian met with an NBC reporter on Thursday and explained what he was thinking the day of the play.
“I got 5 feet away I saw the catcher get the ball. He was crouched down and I really couldn’t slide around him, so my first instinct was to dive over him,” Brian said.
His mom, Dru, was sitting in the stands, where people were quite surprised by what just happened,
“The stands were like, 'Oh my God!' We were all pretty shocked,” she said. Fordham beat Iona, 12 to 9, that game. Brian scored the 12th run, was hailed a hero and his flip went viral. But there's more to this story.
Bob says Fordham, the favorite to win this game, was losing up until the 8th inning.
“They were playing pretty badly to be honest with you and then they made a couple of hits. All of a sudden, things started happening and you could feel the crowd and the buzz, then that happened and it sent everything over the edge,” Bob Kownacki said.
Now the shortstop's flip to home plate has landed him in headlines and talk shows,
“It’s a lot of fun I’m really enjoying this. My 15 minutes of fame,” he said.
His dad likely wants to keep it at 15 minutes. He's not too anxious for a repeat performance.
“My dad said, 'That was a very nice play but i could be very dangerous and don’t try it again.'"
Brian's amazing play prompted someone to create the “Brian Kownacki can fly” Facebook page.
The 2008 graduate of Amity Regional even captured the attention of the Harlem Globe Trotters, who honored him with a “Trotter Tribute,” something bestowed on professional and college athletes whose play “calls to mind the dazzling showmanship of ‘the world’s most famous team.’”
The move seemingly came out of nowhere for an athlete with no acrobatic experience, but his girlfriend, who was watching from the stands, is taking credit. She has cheerleading experience, Kownacki said.