Matt and Lisa Brockway stood off to the side Tuesday afternoon, in foul territory at Camden Yards, watching their son have his moment. In the middle of a throng of Orioles players and front office executives stood Luke, his own custom No. 7 jersey on his back, meeting the heroes he plays with on his video game, “MLB The Show.”

A few minutes earlier, manager Brandon Hyde ceded his press conference to the 17-year-old Luke, a rising senior at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. Working through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Luke is serving as Baltimore’s honorary manager the second game of the Dodgers series.

He’d already approved Hyde’s lineup construction (“It’s pretty solid considering there’s a right-handed pitcher for the Dodgers tonight,” Luke said) and ran through his bullpen options for the upcoming game (With a lead, Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista will see the eighth and ninth innings, and before them will be Danny Coulombe).

It all drew a laugh from Lisa, watching her son hold court as if the manager’s chair in the press conference room is where he’s always belonged. She and Matt smiled as Luke later stood next to Adley Rutschman and watched Gunnar Henderson take batting practice hacks. Luke’s eyes popped when he saw how tall Tyler Wells, Cano and Bautista truly are in person. They all soaked in a dream of a day.

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But Lisa also choked up, remembering what brought them here.

There was that day in 2020, when everything changed.

Luke collapsed while playing an indoor floor hockey game, and after a trip to the doctor and a subsequent cardiogram diagnosed Luke with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that affects the main pumping chamber of the heart, his future in sports was in doubt.

He played third base and pitched for a school and travel team growing up. He was competitive. He loved the feeling when he struck out an opposing batter and wanted to “just dominate, to get outs, to get the win,” Luke said. That love drove him to try playing baseball again, to continue a passion.

Luke Brockway, 17, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is manager for a day on July 18, 2023. He holds a press conference before the game with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner) (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Luke made his return to the mound in October 2020. By that point, he had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator device in his chest as a safety measure.

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“If he hadn’t had that …” Lisa said, trailing off.

The adrenaline in that moment, pitching again, caused his heart to stop. The ICD device saved his life on the field, but his parents and doctors at Johns Hopkins hospital knew he’d never be able to play the sport again.

“That first time that one doctor told us he wouldn’t be able to play sports anymore, my heart just dropped, and he immediately just burst into tears,” Lisa said. “That was awful. That was almost worse than the diagnosis.”

“I think the hardest thing was that I can’t play what I love so much, which is baseball,” Luke added.

Early on, his parents had to follow Luke’s lead. The world was gripped in the pandemic, their son had a new diagnosis and he was about to begin high school. But at the same time, Luke’s perseverance helped his parents stay strong.

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Luke found his way by joining the Mount Saint Joseph baseball team as a manager. The Catonsville native also stays connected to the sport by volunteering at baseball camps and coaching a local Little League team.

“I just love seeing the other side of the baseball field,” Luke said. “I have such a pull, such a passion for the game that there was no way I was leaving it once I was diagnosed. I was like, nah. Even though I can’t play, I’ve got to find some way I can stick with the game and still be part of the team.”

He sees the game in a different way when he’s patrolling the dugout rather than the mound. Luke enjoys giving his players feedback, and Hyde joked that if he’s ejected from Tuesday’s game, Luke will take over.

“Sounds like he knows what he’s doing,” Hyde said, “so we’re in great hands.”

Luke Brockway, 17, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is manager for a day on July 18, 2023. He holds a press conference before the game with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner) (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

The Orioles are also a constant in Luke’s life. Matt’s father introduced him to the team when he was young. Matt recalled the excitement around being at Memorial Stadium for the 1979 World Series, even with seats about as far from the field as possible in the old ballpark. Since moving back to Maryland a little over a decade ago, he has taken Luke to Camden Yards several times for games.

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Now he stood on the field at Camden Yards, surrounded by his heroes.

“So proud of him,” Lisa said, looking on. “He’s an amazing kid.”

“He’s finding a different way to do it,” Matt added.

His baseball playing days may have been taken from him. But baseball will never fully leave Luke.

Luke Brockway, 17, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is manager for a day on July 18, 2023. He holds a press conference before the game with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner) (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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