by Annaliese Leon
PHOENIX — Brett Phillips was a finalist in spelling bee in the fourth grade. He fell short of becoming champion because of the word “miscellaneous.”
Better late than never, Phillips – now a Brewers outfield prospect – received a shot at redemption Wednesday when pitcher Joba Chamberlain hosted the first spelling bee at Maryvale Baseball Park.
The two sat in chairs side by side, with Phillips, 22, in his Brewers blue warm-up top.
Chamberlain sported a white Brewers jersey-themed robe with the No. 52 included and the word “pancakes” across the back. Pitcher Jimmy Nelson is the robe’s rightful owner.
Coming into the contest, Phillips said, “I’m probably going to knock these words out regardless.”
(Video by Megan Plain/Cronkite News)
Chamberlain began with some fun teammate trivia, challenging Phillips to spell the last name of fellow outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Phillips failed at the second letter. He put “e” instead of “i.”
Chamberlain eased up on him and gave him a word he should be familiar with: “balk.”
Phillips spelled the word with ease.
As the contest proceeded, the ego within Phillips began to diminish.
The third word from Chamberlain was “narcolepsy.” Phillips twice got all the way to the final letter and went with “e” instead of the proper “y.”
Chamberlain jokingly screaming “y” at Phillips.
“Don’t yell at me,” Phillips said. “Don’t you see all these people here? This is pressure right here.”
The contest drew at least 10 to 15 onlookers including fellow players and media members.
Then came the fourth word: “conscientious.”
Phillips didn’t get off to a hot start. He mispronounced the word.
He attempted to spell the word “conscious” instead, leaving Chamberlain dying of laughter.
The fifth and final word gave Phillips a true shot at redemption. It was “miscellaneous” — the word he’d missed in the clutch in the fourth-grade spelling bee.
This time, he didn’t “misc” it.
So he’d gone 2-for-5.
“I’m a little disappointed in myself,” Phillips said. “The spelling bee really exposed how long I’ve been out of school.
“I should probably take the spelling bee finalist out of my Twitter bio now, that’s just how bad I did.”
He doesn’t think that the fourth-grade version of himself would be too proud.
“The fourth-grade me would definitely let me know that I’m not that good,” Phillips said. He said that if that fourth grader saw that he had that in his Twitter bio now, he’d probably laugh at him.
Following the contest, Phillips had already started thinking of ways to sharpen anew his knowledge of spelling.
“I might take a little online classes here and there, just to kind of refresh my mind,” Phillips said.
In addition, he mentioned that he plans to read a book in his spare time: the dictionary.