Dr. P.J. Brennan and his son, Pat, attended a Phillies game at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati in June 2015. Cole Hamels pitched, and Pat bought his father a base used in the game.
Something unexpected hangs on the walls beside the usual diplomas and photos in Dr. P.J. Brennan’s Philadelphia office.
About 70 baseballs.
Dr. Brennan, Penn Medicine’s Chief Medical Officer since 2005, has loved baseball since childhood. Some of the balls in his office are autographed by celebrities, but most are mementos from the many games he attends with family and friends.
“One of my very earliest memories is listening to the Phillies on the radio with my grandfather in the backyard,” he said. “It was around the age of 5, or even earlier.”
Dr. Brennan also fondly recalls hitting balls with his dad and uncle, a high-school baseball coach. (He played Little League before taking up basketball.) He still has the ticket stub from his first major league game, on Aug. 2, 1964, when the Phillies played the Dodgers.
“I had tons of baseball cards,” he said. “My mother swears they’re still somewhere in her house, but I can’t find them.”
Dr. Brennan, an infectious diseases specialist who joined Penn’s faculty in 1988, also collected autographs as a kid. He had more of the Eagles – he used to go to training camp in Hershey -- than the Phillies. Mike Schmidt and Johnny Callison are among his favorite Phillies.
He passed on his love for baseball to his three sons, who are now in their 20s. He recalls taking his oldest son to his first Reading Phillies game in 1989, the same day Schmidt announced his retirement. Dr. Brennan, his wife Ann and their sons have taken nearly annual trips to spring training games in Florida for more than 15 years.
“My sons would get autographs by the dozens,” he said. “We have literally bowls full of baseballs at home that have been signed by major league players.”
Besides baseball, Dr. Brennan likes history – he and sons have even participated in Gettysburg battle re-enactments -- and running. He recently organized a 5K to support neurodegenerative disease research at Penn’s Institute on Aging.
Dr. Brennan’s most prized baseball-related possessions include balls autographed by the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers (including Sandy Koufax and Jackie Robinson) and the 1961 New York Yankees (including Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle).
He keeps those at home.