NEW YORK -- The boy and his dad would sit in Bank One Ballpark for hours, laughing, smiling, hugging, watching magic unspool before them.
More than anything, they would talk. Bob Brenly, the father, would point things out to him, dissect them, explain them. Michael Brenly, the son, would digest the sound bites as if they were M&Ms.
"Me and my dad discuss stuff a lot," Michael explains. "It really helps me with my game. I'll remember something that came up and know what to do and where I need to be on the field. He's not just the guys' manager, he's my manager as well. I like spending time with him."
Normally, this is not a problem. Michael just hops in the car, punches the time card and assumes his role as a batboy for his pop's Arizona Diamondbacks. But the Snakes' success changed things a bit. Michael, a blossoming seamhead, desperately wanted to travel as Arizona continued its improbable quest for its first championship.
"I am loving this," Michael says. "It's been fun."
That the Diamondbacks are in this position is largely due to the fact that Bob isn't a slave to numbers. Oddly, it is those same numbers which nearly forced Michael to subtract himself from the guest list. You see, he was having a little problem with problems.
Algebra threatened to sabotage his big road trip. And honestly, at 15, an age when most boys have the attention of a gerbil on a latte, it would be difficult to fault Michael for settling to just watching history from home.
But the light bulb was definitely flickering. We're not talking e = mc squared inspiration here, but x + y definitely = Yankees.
"I went to my math tutor (Jane Kay) every day for like three hours," says Michael, a sophomore at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I did all my homework. I had something to shoot for, to get my scores up. I was exhausted by the end of it (when he got the B on his exam). But it was worth it being here, watching my dad and these guys go to battle against one of the best teams in the world."
Added Bob, "He earned it. I am proud of him."
Why did this game hold so much appeal? Unless you have no pulse, you realize this was about more than peanuts, hotdogs and hum, baby hum. This was Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built -- amazingly without the help of the folks from HOK.
"I am a baseball fan. I came for the workout. And when I walked onto the field that first time my mouth just dropped," says Michael, a third baseman now after initially trying his hand at catching. "It was everything I have seen on TV every year. It was great."
As you might have guessed, the last three weeks have been nothing short of a Disneyland script for the kid. One day, he's a freshman with a recognizable last name, the next he's bathing in fame. It's made for some interesting conversations in the halls where his peers grind their teeth in envy.
"They all ask me about it because they know that I am enjoying this," Michael says. "But my good friends try not to talk about it too much. Those who aren't close friends can be a little annoying you could say. They are always bothering me for tickets and autographs."
Nothing, however, can spoil the experience -- including a New York rally that was launched on Tuesday night with a nervy 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. Michael already has a snapshot that will never leave his memory. When he closes his eyes, he still sees shortstop Tony Womack raising his arms in triumphance after producing the Game 5-winning hit against the Cardinals in their Division Series.
"That was the big one. That was actually my birthday," says Michael, who spent this Tuesday walking around Central Park with the other batboys on the trip. "I turned 15 that day, so it was very special for me and my dad. It was the best present that I have ever had in my life. It was a big moment."
What's striking about Michael is his maturity. Though his quotes suggest otherwise, he's not overwhelmed. Perhaps because he predicted this.
"I knew we would be here because I knew that we had a strong team," Michael says. "And [managing] is the last thing my dad hadn't done in baseball. He knows so much. He loves what he's doing."
Almost as much as his son enjoys watching. Interview over, Michael grabbed his glove and headed to right field to shag fly balls. At Yankee Stadium. On a school night.
Can it really get better than this?
Troy E. Renck is a reporter for MLB.com.