While Great Bend’s Gary Pinkall is warming up his arm, his son, Bryan, will warm up his Grammy Award-winning voice.
The elder Pinkall will celebrate his 56th birthday when he kicks off the inaugural season of the Great Bend Boom baseball team by throwing the honorary first pitch Thursday at Al Burns Memorial Field.
In January, the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs launched the Great Bend Boom as a first-year franchise. The Boom will begin a 32-game home schedule at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against the Salina Stockade. Tickets are $6.
Gary Pinkall has coached football, basketball and track during a 34-year career teaching science, including 26 years in Great Bend.
Gary’s parents, Bob and Karen Pinkall, were life-long friends of Al and Frances Burns. All four were teachers and educators. The connection started when Frances’ father, Ray Nonken, taught with Al Burns at WaKeeney, Kansas. Burns coached Ban Johnson baseball in Great Bend. One notable player was Kansas State graduate Earl Woods, the father of PGA golfer Tiger Woods.
“We’re big baseball fans, so this is real excitement,” Gary said. “This is a night we can share with our family. I’m thankful Bryan got the ball rolling.”
Bryan said, “When we realized that the first game would be on May 19, my dad’s birthday, the whole family came together to help sponsor the first game, and give my dad a place in Great Bend’s history.”
Bryan said the family has donated free tickets to many of Gary’s students to attend the first professional baseball game Thursday — the last day of the school year.
“We have been family friends with Burns family, and since it is his 26th year teaching in Great Bend, we thought this would be a great way to celebrate his dedication to the community and his students,” Bryan said.
Gary said he’s equally proud of the accomplishments of his son, Bryan.
Kansas State University music professor Bryan Pinkall, along with the Kansas City Chorale, Phoenix Chorale and conductor Charles Bruffy, won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. Pinkall was a soloist and chorister on the winning album, “Rachmaninoff: All Night Vespers.”
Bryan landed a spot singing the National Anthem for a Kansas City Royals game in 2002 when Scott Donovan from Eagle Radio helped prepare an audition tape. He’s performed the National Anthem at Royals and Sporting Kansas City soccer games. His most unique performance kicked off a U.S. State Department meeting on the economy in the Kansas City area.
He said baseball was always a part of the family’s summer lifestyle. Bryan and his cousins, Bruce and Ryan Pinkall, have worked as umpires,
“We’re a big sports family. My dad has had lots of connections with the city of Great Bend and local sports,” Bryan said. “We’re all excited.”
The Great Bend Boom will play in the Northern Division against Garden City, Salina, Topeka and Trinidad, Colo. The 10-team Pecos League features clubs from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Kansas.