Honoring the legacy of Clayton Pfeiffer through baseball

It was the beginning of the fourth game of the tournament. Fourth batter. Fourth pitch of the at-bat. With a Rawlings Quatro bat in hand, Brandon Schlichtig went up to the plate and hit a grand slam putting his team up by four.

The number four seemed to be everywhere on February 18, 2017. But most significantly, it was on the back of Schlichtig’s jersey.

Schlichtig goes up to bat at a home game

The last student to wear the No. 4 jersey was Clay Pfeiffer. He was killed on February 22, 2012, in a tragic car accident just miles from campus before he had the opportunity to wear the Missouri Baptist pinstripes in his first college game. He was 18 years old.

“His dream was to be a professional baseball player, so I told his dad and aunt that I’m trying to fulfill those dreams for him now — for both of us,” Schlichtig said. “He just liked the game; he would always talk baseball.”

Schlichtig, a senior sport management major, and Pfeiffer first met when they were about 8 years old and played baseball against each other in grade school. They went on to become teammates at St. John Vianney High School in South St. Louis County.

Pfeiffer played second base, and Schlichtig usually plays catcher.

“Clay was always the smallest kid, but he always had the biggest heart on the field — no matter who we were stepping up against,” Schlichtig said. “He would model being a ball player both on and off the field.”

“My favorite thing about baseball is having a team behind you — no matter what,” said Schlichtig, who has played the sport since he was four years old. “It’s not an individual sport; it’s like being brothers.”

The two were very close friends, and Schlichtig enjoyed giving Pfeiffer a hard time about his size.

“He was about 4-foot-nothing,” Schlichtig joked. “We would call him ‘little guy.’”

Schlichtig misses his friend and teammate but also misses the way he seemed to always get out of trouble.

“No matter what it was, Clay would always get out of it,” he said. “If we were getting in trouble with his mom or in school or something, he would just have this little up-to-no-good smirk — like he’s so small and cute — he would get out of it.”

Schlichtig said that Pfeiffer was a St. Louis Cardinals fan but admired many players from a variety of professional teams.

“Clay was a ballplayer; he looked the part. If there was a trend going on in the major leagues, Clay had already done it,“ he added. “Clay had his name on his batting gloves just like the pro guys even though he never used them.”

“He always had them in his back pocket, and they always looked nice,” Schlichtig added. “But when he would go to bat, he would just use dirt and pine tar.”

Pfeiffer’s strong work ethic is something that Schlichtig is carrying on.

“In high school, I’d always get there early to try and hit with Clay, but he had always been there for a couple hours already with his dad,” he said. “This is something I have tried to model the past couple years — to be the first one in the cage to warm up.”

“He would show us that he would come prepared every day. He would respect the game — he definitely modeled himself to be a great baseball player on and off the field,” Schlichtig added.

Head Baseball Coach Eddie Uschold says the best part of his job is working with the guys on his team, having an impact on their lives, and helping them become the men God called them to be.

“Clay was always one of the first ones there and the last ones to leave — his teammates loved him,” Uschold added. “Both him and Schlichtig were hard workers and loved the game of baseball — although Clay was a lot quieter than Brandon.”

The moment when Schlichtig wore the No. 4 for the first time really stood out to Uschold.

“It was really neat the night before that game when Clay’s father put that jersey on Brandon at the banquet,” Uschold said. “I didn’t think about the significance of the number four until after the game the next day.”

Schlichtig is still close to Pfeiffer’s family. They come to a couple games each year, and Pfeiffer’s parents, aunt and grandparents were all at the game in February.

The Pfeiffer family and the MBU baseball players also participate in the annual Clay Pfeiffer Golf Tournament, held the first weekend in August. Proceeds go to the Clay Pfeiffer Scholarship fund to help a student attend Vianney High School.

Schlichtig said that Pfeiffer always chose to lead by example, and he is carrying on that tradition.

“Wearing his number means a chance to honor him, and he didn’t get a chance to fulfill his dream and win a World Series and sign pro,” he added. “I’m doing it for him and not just for me and my team — I think about it every time I put on his number or even when I am just practicing.”

Wearing the No 4 jersey, Schlichtig prepares to hit a home run to honor the memory of his friend, Clayton Pfeiffer.

Our Stories. #ShineOnMBU