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HIGH-SCHOOL

'He should have been pitching tonight.' How Buchholz baseball honored Rex and Brody Reinhart

Three years ago, 14 year old Rex and 11 year old Brody Reinhart were tragically murdered. Last month, Buchholz made sure their names would never be forgotten.

Noah Ram
Gainesville Sun

The Buchholz baseball team will play at Bobcat Park for possibly the final time this season Thursday night when it hosts Fleming Island in the Class 6A-District 3 Final.

The home of the squad, Bobcat Park, has held a different feel this season due to a new on-field addition.

Before Buchholzֱs game with Jacksonvilleֱs Trinity Christian on March 28, the team officially dedicated the diamond on the northwest corner of Buchholzֱs campus to Rex and Brody Reinhart.

ֱIt was cool to see what was accomplished without them being here because Rex should have been in our grade,ֱ Buchholz junior Wyatt Clarke said. ֱHe probably should have been out here pitching tonight.ֱ

Who were Rex and Brody Reinhart?

Rex (14) and Brody (11) were both tragically killed by their father in a murder-suicide on the morning of Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

The father, who had been separated from his wife, Minde O'Sullivan, took Rex and Brody to the familyֱs vacation home 50 miles west of Gainesville, near Suwannee in Dixie County. He killed them before lighting the house on fire and taking his own life.

The tragedy attracted attention in Gainesville, not just for its horrific nature, but also because Rex and Brody were active in the North Central Florida youth baseball community.

Rex played for the Tampa-based Florida Heat travel baseball squad. He was best friends with Clarke and fellow junior Gage Riley.

Booklets with photos of Rex and Brody Reinhart are seen at the brothers' celebration of life service at the Florida Ballpark on Monday, May 17, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla.

Clarke said Rex and Brodyֱs deaths were among the first ֱmajorֱ events in his life, and it made him grow up quicker.

Riley said he was always at the Reinhart home and vice versa, even being there two nights before.

ֱIt was just gut-wrenching. I remember the exact time I was pulled out of school, and I got the news broken to me,ֱ Riley said. ֱI couldn't even do anything. Like breathing was hard, I couldn't cry, all the emotions rushed in so fast. It was a big turning point in my life.ֱ

Buchholz High School baseball player Wyatt Clarke (12) gives Minde Reinhart a hug after she threw out the first pitch in honor of the Rex and Brody Foundation before the Buchholz and Gainesville High School game, Thursday, April 14, 2022, at Buchholz High School, in Gainesville, Florida. Reinhart set up the Foundation in her sons' honor after they were tragically killed by their father in a murder-suicide in May 2021. The boys were very active in baseball, and the Foundation was established to help fund youth baseball players who might not be able to afford it. It also helps fund scholarships and facility upgrades for local ball fields.

Buchholz coach Ron Brooks didnֱt know Rex and Brody personally, but he said the twoֱs spirit live on in the Bobcats dugout.

ֱThey talk about how lighthearted he was, and how loose he made everybody in the dugout and on the field feel,ֱ Brooks said. ֱI think you see a lot of kids in our program carry on that spirit.ֱ

How did this project come to be?

Minde said she began the Rex and Brody foundation just a few days after May 4th because she wanted a purpose.

ֱI wake up every single day and think how in the world did this happen? Like why is this my life? How did this happen to my boys, but I get up every single day with a purpose because of the foundation,ֱ she said.

Minde admits the foundation has carried a steep learning curve as fundraising and asking for money was never her ֱthing.ֱ

The foundation has accomplished a great deal with the three years. They helped pay for new jerseys for GHS last season.

A mural painted Wednesday on the Northwest 34th Street wall in Gainesville honors the lives of youth baseball players Rex Reinhart, 14, and Brody Reinhart, 11, who were killed by their father, Paul O. Reinhart, 46, on May 4, 2021 at the family's vacation home near Suwannee in western Florida.

Mindeֱs also helped take youth teams on the road. She brings a team to Cooperstown each season to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and sponsored travel teams from Arizona and California.

The field dedication, though, was one of the first projects she wanted to partake in.

ֱHalf of these boys have played with Rex since he was in T-ball, so half this team suffered this tremendous loss, and itֱs impacted their life hugely,ֱ she said. ֱI thought this was one way we could come back and help them.ֱ

Buchholz baseball players benefit from Minde

Due to the foundation, Clarke got to visit Cooperstown and coach a team there along with former Gator great Austin Langworthy.

ֱThat was really cool because that was all of Brodyֱs friends and his direct team, and for her to give them the opportunity,ֱ Clarke said. ֱThat team went to the final four out of 126 teams, so thatֱs pretty impressive.ֱ

A billboard is seen on the fence walking into the baseball field area at Buchholz High School for the Rex and Brody Foundation Thursday, April 14, 2022, at Buchholz High School, in Gainesville, Florida. The Reinhart brothers were tragically killed by their father in a murder-suicide in May 2021. The boys were very active in baseball, and so their mother Minde Reinhart set up the Rex and Brody Foundation in their name, to help fund youth baseball players who might not be able to afford it. It also helps fund scholarships and facility upgrades for local ball fields. Minde Reinhart also threw out the first pitch before the game.

Riley said he, along with Rex and Brodyֱs friends, view Minde as a second mom.

ֱThe only way we got through what happened was with lots of tears and lots of hugs. We all gathered kind of as a baseball community around Mindy in the idea of the boys passing away, and she was very strong and helped us,ֱ Riley said.

Minde said she canֱt imagine the pain Clarke, Riley and others endured and still do, but she believes they are stronger now due to Rex and Brodyֱs presence.

ֱIf you go in that dugout right now, I swear Rex and Brodyֱs name has probably been brought up at least two to three times,ֱ she said. ֱTheyֱre not forgetting them.ֱ

Clarke and Riley suppose Rex and Brody are watching over them.

ֱI believe theyֱre living vicariously through us,ֱ Riley said. ֱTheyֱre watching every move, and theyֱre with us when weֱre shouting in the dugout, when weֱre playing.ֱ

Images from Rex and Brody Field Turf Dedication baseball game between Buchholz High School and Trinity Christian Academy at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, FL on Thursday, March 28, 2024. [Chris Watkins/Gainesville Sun]

Both Clarke and Riley said theyֱll be playing for the Reinharts through their high school careers and beyond.

ֱFor me, as a mother, that means so much that my boys had that much of an impact on kids in this short period of time on this earth,ֱ she said.

And in a few decades, when Clarke and Riley have their own kids, theyֱll carry on Rex and Brodyֱs legacy to the next generation.

ֱMy kids will know thatֱs the boys right there,ֱ Clarke said. ֱThat was my dadֱs best friend.ֱ

Buchholz seeks to win a district title for Rex and Brody when it welcomes Fleming Island on Thursday night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

Images from Rex and Brody Field Turf Dedication baseball game between Buchholz High School and Trinity Christian Academy at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, FL on Thursday, March 28, 2024. [Chris Watkins/Gainesville Sun]

Noah Ram covers Gainesville-area high school sports and University of Florida athletics for The Gainesville Sun. Contact him atֱNram@gannett.comֱand follow himֱֱon Twitter.