Sunday, June 29, 2003

Tip of the Cap: 2003

It's time for our year end awards, named in honor of John "Hi" Simmons' signature gesture.

He's so good, we named a play after him:

They know he's going to do it. They even know he's probably going to do it on this next pitch. Everyone in the park knows it.

The baseball approaches. He steps toward the ball and starts his dash for first base at the same time. He directs the ball to just the right spot. The catcher hustles out for it. The pitcher twirls and tries to pounce on it. The first baseman doesn't know whether to go for the ball or protect the base.

It doesn't matter. By the time someone - anyone - comes up with the ball, Jayce is already crossing first base.

They look kind of stupid out there, don't they?

Tingler (tin-gler) n: A perfectly executed bunt-for-a-hit

Enforcers of the Year

One of the Unwritten Rules of College Baseball is: Don't stand at home plate and admire your home run.

Brad Flanders made me happy, along with many other baseball purists, on May 4th when he gave Oklahoma State's Jose Virgil a push from behind to start him on his way toward first base after he posed at home, admiring his home run.

Mark Alexander, the Tiger pitcher who gave up the home run, proceeded to hit the next batter, which caused a bit of a stir and prompted warnings from the umpire.

Alexander was replaced on the mound by Stephan Holst. Stephan, a mild-mannered player who pitched just enough innings in 2003 to disqualify himself for being red-shirted, had the misfortune to hit the fourth batter he faced, thereby managing to get himself - and Coach Jamieson - tossed from the game and suspended. Stephan's suspension lasted over several games, which, considering that was only his fifth appearance, for a total of 10 innings, didn't change his plans much.

The Year of the Transfer

In the summer of 2002, it began to look as though the Tigers were going to be short a few players. With several transfers after last season, especially among the infielders and catching crew, would there be enough able bodies to fill out the roster?

Little did we know that 2003 would be the Year of the Transfer. Brad Flanders, Ian Kinsler, Andy Shipman, Danny Hill, Kyle Johnson and Jeremy Hernandez: Where would the Tigers have been without this group of newcomers?

They most likely would not have been in Oklahoma City or Starkville, Mississippi, at the end of May.

Black & Gold Glove of the Year: Jayce Tingler
No errors in 2003.
2 errors in his entire career as a Tiger.

Best inauguration of a ballpark give-away

The marketing folks in the MU Athletic Department like to entice fans to the ballpark by giving away free stuff. Hamburgers for home runs, tacos for the correct trivia answers, free T-shirts for the lucky number, a free miniature Coke for a returned foul ball.

On Wednesday, March 12th, not only was it $1 Hot Dog & Coke night, but they unveiled a new give-away: The Harpo's Grand Slam Inning. If any MU player hits a grand slam in this inning, they promised, a lucky fan will win a gift certificate to Harpo's.

We all laughed, of course. What are the odds of a player hitting a grand slam in that particular inning?

Shortly thereafter, however, Kyle Johnson came up to bat with the bases loade and...hit a Grand Slam!!

Johnson would hit another grand slam against Baylor a month later - accounting for the only two slams hit by the Tigers in 2003. But that first one would be the only one hit in the "Grand Slam Inning".

For Love of the Game

He was a Mizzou tailback. Football Coach Gary Pinkel liked him for his speed and his heart.

The problem is, Tyrone Roberson's heart wasn't on the football field. It was on the baseball diamond. And so he gave up the pigskin and took up the horsehide full-time.

Actually, that's not the truth. Tyrone Roberson's heart belongs to Someone else.

“The Lord inspired me to make this decision, and I know baseball is what He has planned for me,” Roberson said. “It would have been nice to play both sports every year, but sometimes someone else has a plan for you. And I’m going to follow it.”

The Jay Bell Award

I'll never forget the day in 1998 when senior pitcher Jay Bell took the mound against the Jayhawks in a mid-week game and pitched one of the quickest, most dominating shutouts I've ever seen. When teh game was over and everyone was celebrating, my son asked me what was the big deal.

"It's just a shut-out," he said.

"No, Cody," I explained. "It's not just a shut-out. It's a shut-out of the Jayhawks."

I proceeded to explain to him the depth of the rivalry between MU and KU. He's been a diehard Beaker-hater ever since.

And so, we honor Jay Bell by invoking his memory as we honor the best performance against the Jayhawks.

This year, the winner of the award has to be the entire Tiger team, who swept the Jayhawks in Simmons Field, then rubbed it in at the Big XII Tournament by beating Kansas and eliminating them from the tournament.

And, once again, the smiles on the faces of Tiger fans were beaming.

Easiest Opposing Player to Heckle

Tony Piazza, Catcher for the Southwest Missouri State Bears, not only has the same last name as a famous major leaguer, but he also is perhaps the biggest slob I've seen on a ball field in a long time. His shirt-tail was hanging out, making him look like Pig-Pen on a Little League field. Even the umpire got on his case about it. His loose shirt-tail was not really surprising, though, since he is also the worst fidgeter we saw, shrugging and shaking and wiggling like a crazed man during each plate appearance.

Piazza was drafted this week. Something tells me his minor league coaches will make him tuck his shirt in.

Easiest Umpire to Heckle

We should call this Bill Davis award, but "Balking Bill" seemed to settle down a bit this year.

This year's award is a tie.

Larry Donovan, who is a close second to Bill Davis in number of Tiger games umpired, wins on the basis of having a strike zone that moves around so much he owns stock in U-Haul.

Chris Koskie also gets a share of this award, for being the annual patsy to work home plate for Mizzou's game at Southwest Missouri State. Word has it that any umpire who doesn't slant his calls of an SMS home game never gets invited back to wear the blue for the Bears.

Bill Buckner Award

The enitre left side of the infield, from 3B Zane Taylor (22 errors) to SS Ian Kinsler (16 errors) to 2B Jeremy Hernandez (17 errors). It seems every year that the most errors on nearly any college baseball team belong to someone at these three positions. And we name this award in memory of the Boston Red Sox 1st-baseman who will forever be remembered for one huge error, rather than for his many years as an excellent major league fielder.

Most over-looked and under-rated Tiger

Freshman Adam Garrett, dismissively referred to as "Little" Adam Garrett by Tex Little for the entire season. Even Adam understood his situation, being a shortstop on the same team as Ian Kinsler.

The only chance he really got all year to show what he could do was when Kinsler was benched for a couple weeks with an injury. During those games, Garrett showed he could field the shortstop position as well as anyone, and displayed impressie skill with the bat.

In fact, Adam's opportunity came during the Tigers' 13-game winning streak, and he posted an impressive .619 batting average against Big XII competition, a number which still is #1 on the stats list for all Big XII players, regardless of at-bat minimums.

Somehow, though, after Kinsler returned from the injury list, Garrett disappeared.

While the regular second baseman suffered a hitting slump in the latter part of the season, Garrett rode the bench.

While the three left-side infielders racked up more and more errors, Garrett rode the bench.

While the two leading designated hitters (other than regular starters in the field who sometimes played DH) hit .317 and .248, Garrett and his .449 average rode the bench.

Imagine how the last four years would have been different if "Little" Jayce Tingler had spent his freshman season riding the bench.

Base Cadet

The official stats are deceiving in regard to base-running flubs. Pick-offs and Caught-stealing account for only part of basepath problems the Tigers experienced in 2003. A number of innings were end prematurely by base-running choices out of the "Twilight Zone". Shortstop Ian Kinsler distinguished himself above his fellow road-kill candidates during the Texas series, and never let go of his claim to the title of Base Cadet.

Hard Luck Cafe:

Two players spent a lot of time sitting the bench at the cafe is 2003:

Lee Laskowski should have known the fates were against him when his picture appeared on the official 2003 schedules and posters, identifying the Tiger Junior as "Sophomore Lee Laskowski". That proved to be the least of his problems, though, as major back problems continually hampered him and sidelined, until finally he was scratched from the lineup for good. What had been a season with the hope of finishing as a high draft pick turned into a wash-out.

Our best wishes to Lee. We certainly hope he gets "back" into shape and can return as a leader on the Tiger team in 2004.

Brent Lacy also was the victim of bad luck this year, of another kind. In 2002, Lacy became the #1 Tiger catcher when one catcher after another went down to injuries. Lacy was the iron man of the Tigers, catching game after game, even enduring pain from his own injuries in order to show up for work at the plate.

Lacy's bad luck came in the form of Brad Flanders, who stepped onto Simmons Field last fall and immediately began to lay calim to the starting catcher's job. Brent Lacy found himself watching while someone else was a starter at his position.

Lacy was a gracious backup, though. Never without a smile, Lacy became one of the loudest voices in the dugout, a bench-jockey cheering his team along.

Most "interesting" pitcher

Travis Wendte.

He led the team in saves with 8. He could blow batters away at times - he struck out 27 batters in 28.1 innings. He was an honorable mention to the All-Big XII team.

And he always made it "interesting" (that's not my word - it was used by a fellow Tiger player to describe Wendte's pitching appearances).

In those 28 innings he had allowed 37 hits, walked 9, threw 5 wild pitches, got called for 1 balk, allowed 2 triples and 2 home runs, and somehow finished the year with an impressive 3.45 ERA, the best on the team.

Stand by your son

A Tip of the Cap to Steve and Diana Tingler, who have faithfully occupied their seats in Section B for four years. I've always been impressed by how they have warmly welcomed fans of the visiting teams who always sat near them in Sections A & B.

PTA (Parent of Tiger Athletes)

Karen Rallo wins the PTA Organizer award, for organizing tailgate parties and other activities for Tiger parents and other fans. She and husband Mike are the defacto leaders of the parents, having been rooting on their sons since Ryan's older brother Mike arrived on the MU campus in the Fall of 1996

Talking Head Award

My pick for the top media personality covering the Tigers in 2003 is Ryan Pickett. When "Pick" was named to be Tex Little's radio side-kick, I was frankly dubious. They call the catcher's gear the "tools of ignorance" for a reason, you know. But Ryan turned out to be great at the job. His knoweldge of the game and of the Tiger players is always evident, and he has a friendly and casual way of sharing his knowledge with listeners that makes you feel like he's sitting next to you in the stands, just talking about the game. Good job, Pick!

By the numbers

15 Ryan Rallo's MU jersey number from 2000-2002

51 Ryan Rallo's jersey number for 2003

15 Phil Bradley's retired jersey number

45% Percentage increase in Rallo's 2003 RBI numbers compared to his average over the previous two years

56 NCAA maximum games allowed

57 Games on the original 2003 MU schedule

52 Regular season games actually played

513 Average Attendance at Simmons Field (24 games)

2458 Average Attendance at the Tigers' away-games(34 games)

0 Errors by Jayce Tingler, 2003

2 Errors by Jayce Tingler, MU Career

1 Jayce Tingler's rank on the MU Career list for Runs, Hits, Bases on Balls

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Phil Bradley's #15 Retired

“I’ve seen him play both football and baseball, and I think that baseball may be his best sport, if I might be so presumptuous.”

~ MU Baseball Coach Gene McArtor, March 1979

On April 27, 2003, Phil Bradley's Number 15 joined two other retired numbers affixed permanently to the outfield walls of Simmons Field. The other two belong to a pair of men who coached the Tigers over the span of 58 years, from 1937 through 1994: John "Hi" Simmons and Gene McArtor.

Bradley, who played in the outfield for the Mizzou baseball team during the 1979, 1980 and 1981 seasons, was the first non-coach to see his number retired by Missouri.

No one who was following MU athletics in the late 70's and early 80's has to ask why Phil Bradley deserves such an honor. For those of you who are newer to the Mizzou family, I offer the following statistics, profiles, internet links and reproductions of news articles from the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Number 15 takes place among MU legends (Columbia Tribune, 4/28/2003)

MU's McArtor can't hide optimism
(From the Columbia Daily Tribune, March 1, 1979)

When Missouri baseball coach Gene McArtor insists that he’s “excited” about his team’s chances this season, the obvious response is to find the good man an icepack and gently lead him to a soft bed in the corner where nobody will bother him.

After all, the Tigers open the season today at Oral Roberts without three-time All-American shortstop Greg Cypret, first baseman Curt Brown, the team’s leading hitter last season at .371 and four of Missouri;s most reliable pitchers.

Sure coach, whatever you say.
The outfield exemplifies the Tigers’ conversion to speed this season. The most encouraging addition to the team is Phil Bradley, who probably will become the regular left fielder.

Bradley, the electrifying all-Big Eight quarterback, was forced to participate in spring football practice as a freshman. This time, he’s in no apparent hurry to flop on shoulder pads.

The situation with Phil,” McArtor says, “is that he will remain with the baseball team as long as he is playing. And right now, I’ll guarantee that he’ll be playing.”

“I’ve seen him play both football and baseball,” he continues, “ and I think that baseball may be his best sport, if I might be so presumptuous.”

Standing at a Crossroads
Baseball or football? Missouri's Phil Bradley must soon decide
(From the Columbia Daily Tribune, May 4, 1980)

Phil Bradley stands at life's crossroads, pondering one of those decisions that shapes a future. His is a choice of opportunities, not of reluctant remedies. But nonetheless, it's a dilemma - and one that Philip Poole Bradley, age 21, Macomb, Ill, must decide for himself.

The gifted young athlete at the University of Missouri has a decision to make this summer. A decision infinitely more important than choosing to keep the football himself instead of handing off to James Wilder, much more permanent than deciding to throw a 5-yard pass across the middle to Andy Gibler instead of a long strike to Ken Blair.

This decision has to do with football and baseball, two careers for which Bradley carefully has groomed himself. His decision also has to do with completing a college education now or taking the chance of finishing those final semesters later. And in this game, you don't get to punt if your first three decisions are wrong.

In this zany world of college baseball, athletes are eligible for the professional draft after their junior year in college or once they turn 21. So Bradley can be chosen by a Major League organization this summer. Furthermore, not only is Missouri's standout center fielder eligible to be drafted in June, he also is a desirable commodity in the baseball business.

At the same time, though, Bradley has rewritten the passing and rushing records for quarterbacks the past three seasons at the University of Missouri. And even more is expected from the two-time all-Big Eight Conference quarterback this season.

But it seems certain that Bradley will be chosen in the baseball draft in June, before his senior year begins this fall at Missouri. One scout already has said, much to the chagrin of the football coaches, that Bradley is certain to be drafted.

First and foremost, Phil Bradley must please Phil Bradley.

"I've got a feeling what I'm going to do, but I'm not going to let it be known publicly," Bradley says. "The less I say, the less I stir everybody up."

It was a mere "maybe" after the Missouri Tigers' 34-14 win over South Carolina in the Hall of Fame Bowl back in December that did "stir up" this situation.

In the locker room after the game, Bradley, dressed in a three-piece suit and shining his Most Valuable Player trophy with a white handkerchief, said to a group of reporters, "I've got to go. See you guys next year...maybe."


Stories were written. Implications were made. Questions were asked of Missouri football coach Warren Powers that he didn't particularly appreciate. A few tempers flared.

Bradley has been taking care of himself just fine during this baseball season, only his second in college. After participating in spring football practice his freshman year, Bradley called to Powers' attention the promise former Missouri Coach Al Onofrio had made when Bradley signed his scholarship. Onofrio had agreed to let Bradley skip spring football practice his sophomore year and play baseball instead.

During his first season with Missouri, Bradley hit .314, led the team in triples (five), hit five home runs and earned second-team all-Big Eight honors in right field.

This season Badley was moved to center field and into the leadoff position in the batting order. And until the last month, he was a hot item at the plate. Going in to a double-header with Oklahoma in early April, Bradley was batting .382.

But since then, he has been in a prolonged slump, prompting McArtor to move him to seventh in the Tigers' batting order. In one stretch, Bradley had only two hits in 10 games and in another stretch he went hitless in four consecutive games. His average entering yesterday's double-header with Iowa State stood at .317.

But the slump won't make the professional scouts shy away. The talent is still there.

"I'm not a very good projector of talent," Bradley says. "I don't know how well I can do at another level. But the only way for me to find out is to get a chance to see."

One pro scout said of Bradley, even befoer the season began, that he definitely had the speed and arm to play professionally. The only question, he said, was Bradley's bat.

McArtor, who has seen several of his players sign professional contracts, says Bradley "has the qualities professional ball clubs look for - arm strength, running speed, good athlete. And what is important from a professional standpoint, is you've got to like to go out and play every day. Phil is one of those guys you sit out for a rest, and wants to get in there and play.

"But it's all projecting talent. A lot of guys never get drafted because they aren't projected as big league ball players. You see, there are things that can't be taught in the game of baseball. A guy has to have speed - it's either there or not. Phil's got it. A guy has to have arm strength - it's there or it's not. And he has that, too. He has to have raw talent."

Another variable Bradley has to consider is the degree he is pursuing in business. Should Bradley decide to go the professional baseball route, he would be forced to complete his degree in the off-season.

"The degree - it falls into line with everything else," Bradley says. "The degree depends on whether I'm here or not. If not, then when do I get the chance to go back?"

Considering Bradley's family background, a college degree would seem quite important to him. Bradley's parents are both college graduates. His father, Dr, William Bradley, is a professor in the Physical Education Department at Western Illinois University in Macomb. His older brother, Rey, who played both football and baseball at Virginia Sate, also is a college graduate.

"He comes out of a family where his mother is a college graduate, his father is a college graduate, and conversations have been around college athletics and college education," says the senior Bradley. "Many times we've had analysis types of discussions. Not if people win or lose, but analyze people and their performances.

"I'm sure this has had an influence on all our kids. Especially Phil."

Phil Bradley's theory of football in the fall and baseball in the spring is not totally unfounded. "In out household, we went with the seasons, says William Bradley." "It's my professional opinion, I think athletes specialize too soon. The more chances they get to run, jump, do those athletic skills more, the greater chance they have of reaching their optimum level of skill."

In a way, McArtor finds the whole situation a little amusing. For years now, the Missouri baseball team has been
raided by professional clubs drafting players after their junior years. There weren't many people concerned about that.

But now that the football program stands to lose a player to professional baseball, fans are aghast.

"It will be interesting," McArtor says with a devious smile. "To us, this is no different than 50 other guys we've had that have signed in the past. Maybe we're just more used to it by now. It just doesn't do us any good to get upset when the guys sign early."

Missouri savors crown - especially Bradley
(from the Columbia Daily Tribune, May 15, 1980)

Last night, after Missouri had defeated Nebraska, 5-3, to win its second Big Eight baseball championship in five years of the post-season tournament, the Tigers milled around and celebrated their fourth consecutive win.
Phil Bradley, who was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player, was in rare form.

Bradley, who doubles as a quarterback in the off-season, was beside himself with joy. You didn't need to ask the usually reserved Bradley a question to receive an answer this night. The words and emotions flowed freely from the junior like never before.

"Unbelievable," said Bradley, wearing a smile stretching from here to Tulsa. "I've been playing athletics for I don't know how many years and I've been so close to winning championships and now I've finally got one. I have finally won something, and it is in the Big Eight, and I even had a good tournament.

"This is the most enjoyable tournament I've ever had. The most enjoyable five games, and I got a chance to do what I do best. Get on base. Run. Score runs. And take chances."

Bradley did those thins se well he was the clear-cut winner in the voting of the media members for the Most Valuable Player award and for one of three all-tournament outfield spots. Bradley finished the five games with a not-so-impressive .266 average - four for 15 - but the Missouri centerfielder coaxed nine walks and scored a tournament high eight runs.

Bradley's mere presence on the basepbaths seemed to produce mistakes by Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. And with the ever-present possibility of Bradley stealing, opposing pitchers gave designated hitter Shane Fairbanks, who batted behind Bradley, a lot of inviting pitches to hit. Fairbanks, who also made the all-tournament team, led the Tigers with a .417 tournament batting average.

"I was on base twice, scored twice and somebody noticed," Bradley said. "This is just great. Just great."
"Ever since the OU game (Sunday), I told Scotty (Collins), You've got to to believe. And we finally got it all. And we did it the hard way. Wow."

"You know, I'm not trying to rub it in, but all these teams are my biggest nemeses I have in football," Bradley said. "I haven't beaten them, except for Nebraska once. I've lost to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State twice. It's like a personal vendetta against them.

"And we sent them all home. All of them. It seemed they all had parties set for when they won this thing. When we got here, Coach McArtor said it would be a shame if we spoiled all their parties."

And now the Tigers can have one of their own.

Overlooked Bradley does his talking with his bat
(From the Columbia Daily Tribune, April 30, 1981)

In the short span of 10 minutes early last evening, Phil Bradley was a smorgasbord of emotions. When the subject was football, you could see the hurt, anger and disappointment lurking within this 22-ear-old athlete. But when the talk turned to baseball, there was contentment, even a smile or two flashing by.

His frustrations were the result of the National Football League's draft of college seniors. After all, during his four-year career as a quarterback at the university of Missouri, Bradley became the all-time total offense leader in the Big Eight and was selected the all-conference quarterback three times. Twice, he won an honorable mention on the Associated Press' All-America team.

But when the last player in the NFL draft was taken yesterday - about the time Bradley, the center fielder, stepped to the plate for his first at-bat in an afternoon double-header - he was left out in the cold. Nobody drafted him - not as a quarterback, not as a wide receiver, not as a defensive back, not even as simply a gifted athlete.

And, in his own private way, Bradley was mad. Not raging mad, but simmering. More than anything else, his pride was hurt, and Phil Bradley has a heap of pride in himself and whatever he does.

"I mean, there are 12 rounds," he said, "and what, 332 guys get picked? You figure somewhere along the line somebody...even if I was the 332nd picked that would have been all right.

"But that's life."

So yesterday, Bradley let his bat do his talking. And his performance in Missouri's 15-2, 14-2 double-header sweep over the St. Louis Billikens was enough to change his mood.

Here is what the 400 or so persons at Simmons Field heard yesterday afternoon:

In eight trips to the plate, Bradley, in succession, tripled, doubled, walked, homered, singled, singled, walked, and walked. He now has successfully reached base 15 consecutive times.

Bradley scored eight of the Missouri 29 runs, bringing his season total to 60. That's more runs scored than any other Missouri player has hits.

While going officially 5-for-5 yesterday, Bradley drove in six runs and now has 33 RBI for the season, third on the club while batting in the No. 2 spot.

After his perfect day - at the plate, that is - it was Bradley's batting average that perhaps spoke the loudest about his future. Forty seven games into the season, Bradley is hitting .472, with 68 hits in 144 at-bats.

The future, his statistics say, is in baseball. And, perhaps, that's why the football scouts looked elsewhere this weekend for some talent.

"I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason, " Bradley said. "That's why I didn't get drafted last year in baseball. The baseball people were worried about me wanting to play my last year of football. Now the football people are worrying bout me playing baseball."

"I just wish people would quit worrying about what I might do."

Bradley's disappointment in the NFL draft yesterday was aggravated by the fact that no less than17 quarterbacks were selceted by the 28 professional teams. Some had scrapbooks nowhere as thick as the pile of press clippings Bradley could have collected.

There is always baseball, which Bradley says is his first love.

"He'll be drafted, I'm sure of that," said St. Louis Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog, who watched Bradley go 4-for-5 in an exhibition against his team last week. "He has a good body. How high he goes, I don't know. His arm will get even better once he gets away from football. He's got speed, and he hits the ball."

Since the third game of the Kansas series April 20 - including the exhibition game with the Cardinals - Bradley has 11 hits in his last 13 at-bats.

"The guy started out hot and just hasn't cooled off," said Missouri Coach Gene McArtor after his eighth-ranked Tigers upped their record yesterday to 36-12. "If anyone had seen him today, they just had to be impressed. It was another typical, but very good performance.

"It's gotten to the point now where I don't know if we can expect him to stay as hot as he has been. But his confidence has to be up, and if we continue to hit well as a team, it sure will help him."

"I'm not worrying about my average anymore," Bradley said. :If I simply hit the ball consistently hard, my share of hits will come. Plus, now, my average is not going to go up or down a whole lot."

Bradley welcomed the 1-1/2 week layoff Missouri has had from baseball, and now he's ready for the Tigers' final two road series of the Big Eight conference season.

"I got the rest I needed, and hopefully, now I'm ready for the stretch," Bradley said. "And, hopefully, today is a sign of what's to come."

Then Bradley afforded himself an emotional side-dish, a two-scoop smile on this day of disappointment. He knows the major league draft is June 8

Bradley flies quietly into the sunset
(Columbia Daily Tribune, June 19, 1981)

Think back. Remember those wintry days last December, when Phil Bradley was preparing for the final snap of his much celebrated football career as a Saturday afternoon hero at the university of Missouri.

At the time, you may recall, the world was his. He had everything figured out, although he kept most of his figuring imprisoned from the outside elements. "I've got a plan," he would say confidently, "but I'm not telling, just yet."

A career in the National Football League must have been included in the course he had charted. After all, he was a three-time All Big Eight Conference quarterback, and had gained more yards than any other athlete in Big Eight history. And if not the NFL, then there was always the Canadian Football League. His two-dimensional talents - running and passing - seemed tailor made for the game north of the border.

Another main artery in the Bradley master plan involved baseball. He had the speed and the arm. All he needed to do was swing the bat with some authority in the spring for Missouri - he did to the tune of a .457 batting average - and baseball would provide yet another professional opportunity.

Aboce all else, you must remember the words of Philip Poole Bradley, age 22, of Macomb, Ill, back in those wintry days.

"All I want is a chance. I don't ever want to have to say, Well if I had the chance...I'd rather be able to say I had the chance and I couldn't do it.

"People treat me sometimes as if I came here boasting and bragging that I could do it. I never did that. I came here quietly, and that is the way I want to leave...quietly."

In the end, Bradley had his own way. He received that coveted chance. And he left very, very quietly.
Bradley was not among the 300 or so players selected in the NFL draft. The British Columbia Lions, who had the signing rights to him in the CFL, never showed much interest in him.

And when the Seattle Mariners made Bradley the first selection in the third round of the baseball draft, providing him with that "chance", there was little fanfare. Headlines did not scream; bulletins did not interrupt. It passed very quietly indeed.

So before anyone really knew, the young man with all those glittering alternatives was in a hotel in some town called Bellingham, Washington - not to be confused with Billings, Montana - watching the rain fall.

Well, is Phil Bradley happy?

"Oh yeah," he said, with enough zest to send a smile over those next-best-thing-to-being-there long distance lines. "All I ever wanted was a chance. Now, I've got one. If I don't make it, I don't make it. I'll do something else."

"I thought baseball was in my best interest. I was pretty much thinking baseball. They were showing more interest in me."

If he hadn't come to terms with Seattle, his plans were to work in the summer, return to school in the fall to complete a three-hour course which stands between him and a degree in business, and await the January baseball free agent draft.

"Or maybe I might have waited to play again in the spring," Bradley said, referring to the one year of baseball eligibility he had left at Missouri. "Then, too, I was thinking, maybe football next year. I'd see what happened in January. If nothing, then I'd try out for football as a free agent in the spring."

"As far as where I ended up, " Bradley said, "I didn't know. I ran into some snags along the way, even to get out here. But that is all behind me now, all I've got to do is go out and play."

Opening day for Bradley's chance at professional baseball is set for Tuesday in Eugene, Oregon. Count on it being a quiet debut. Just the way he'd want it.

The quiet man
Phil Bradley's performance, like his silence, is still golden
(Columbia Daily Tribune, June 6, 1983)

If anyone was born to let performance do his talking, Phil Bradley may be that person. Bradley's words come about as often as rain delays in Seattle's Kingdome.

Yet his actions, first as a record-setting quarterback at Missouri and now as a center fielder for the Seattle Mariners, speak volumes.

Did you know Bradley, who still lives in Columbia with his wife, is a big hit with the local charities? Or that he has a degree in personnel management? Probably not. That's the way Bradley prefers it. That's likely the way it will always be.

"He's quiet," Mariners manager Del Crandall says, "but I don't think he's remote or anything like that. He has a nice personality."

On subjects he's enthusiastic about, or talking to someone he's familiar with, Bradley is articulate, witty and downright charming.

Intruders get a cold stare.

Teammates and close followers of the Mariners describe Bradley as reticent, shy, moody and withdrawn.

Several long-time Bradley watchers chuckle and shake their heads. "Same old Phil," they say.

Maybe. But there's also another tag that goes along with being the "Same old Phil" - one that allows Bradley to be everything else. That is, above all, Phil Bradley is a winner. He doesn't understand those who aren't, he ahs no toleration for people who emphasize the negative. Perhaps that's an outgrowth of his days at Missouri when he believes he was unjustly criticized for the Tigers' shortcomings.

He doesn't like to delve into the past. The past, Bradley say, is just that. The future is the future. What's important is the present, which doesn't mean thinking about what might have been had he chosen football over baseball.

"I haven't played football since 1980," says Bradley. "This is 1984 and people are always asking about football. That doesn't make any sense. I'm in the big leagues now. If people can't realize now that I'm a professional baseball player, they probably won't ever realize it."

Seattle's opponents haven't had any trouble realizing it. Bradley, who has had two hits in each of the first two games of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals, is hitting over .280 in 43 games this season, with eight RBI and on game-winning hit, which came on opening day against Toronto.

"Right now, I'm just getting back into playing every day," he says. "Early in the season I was playing every day, and sometime between then and now I wasn't playing very much."

Between then and now, Dave Henderson was the center fielder. Although his batting average is only .202 with one home run, Henderson is considered more of a power threat than Bradley, who has yet to hit his first major-league homer.

Henderson also has a stronger arm, but Bradley has more range and speed. He's stolen six bases this season, second-best on the slow-afoot Mariners.

"I think he's a good ballplayer," Royals' designated hitter Hal McRae says. "Eventually they may move someone and let both of them play."

"You just try to be ready when your turn is called," Bradley says. "That's all. You don't necessarily know when it's going to be, but when your time comes, you have to be ready to play."

Bradley's time came during spring training. If it hadn't, those close to him say, football was a possibility. But Bradley made it impossible for the Mariners to drop him when he hit .371 with 12 RBI, one home run and three triples.

"When we went down there, we didn't know what was going to happen with him," says Crandall, who avoids the word "platoon" when referring to Bradley and Henderson.

"He's playing pretty well right now, so he'll continue to play," Crandall says. "He's hitting the ball and doing the right things on the field that help you win."

Which is all Bradley has ever done.

"Let's go out there and play," he says.

Further talk isn't necessary.

From the Seattle Mariners' Timeline:

Led by Manager Chuck Cottier, who was brought aboard in September of 1984, the Mariners landed 74 wins for the second straight year. Phil Bradley led the club with a .300 average and was named to the All-Star team.

The club struggled through three managerial changes, moving from Cottier to Marty Martinez, until finally settling on Dick Williams in May. Seattle finished with a 67-95 record and placed outfielder Phil Bradley in the All-Star game

Rocket's Red Glare

The date: April 29, 1986.
The site: Fenway Park in Boston.

It’s the ninth inning, and 23- year-old Red Sox righthander Roger Clemens has just frozen Seattle’s Phil Bradley to notch his 20th strikeout of the game. It’s a new major league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, breaking the modern day 19-K mark originally set by Steve Carlton in 1969.

A painting of this moment in history is available (and can be seen) at the above link.

from Baseball Immortals

Single Season Runs Created Leaders 80s

Phil Bradley
116 Runs Created

Tied #14
Phil Bradley
115 Runs Created

Single Season Runs Leaders 80s

Tied #20
Phil Bradley
100 Runs

Tied #17
Phil Bradley
101 Runs

You Could Look it

First Mariner to have 5 hits in a game:
Phil Bradley
on June 8, 1985

First Mariners Walk-off-Grand Slam:
April 13, 1985
against Minnesota
(17th in MLB history)

First Mariners' All-Star Game Starter:
Phil Bradley,
left field, 1985.

Friday, April 11, 2003

One Game at a Time: MU's Winning Streaks

At the time of this writing, the 2003 Missouri Tigers have just extended their winning streak to 13 by defeating the Nebrska Cornhuskers 4-3 in game 1 of a 3-game series in Lincoln.

The last time the Tigers had a 13-game winning streak was in 1988. That team, under Gene McArtor, rang up consecutive wins against Lamar (3), St. Louis U, NW Missouri State (2), UM-StL (2), SIU-Edwardsville (2) and Kansas. The streak was broken by a 3-2 loss to the Jayhawks. The '88 Tigers finished 42-22 for the season and made a trip to the NCAA South Regional.

In 1985, Missouri began the season with a 14-game winning streak. This streak is a little less impressive, given the caliber of many of their opponents during the stretch: Evangel (2), William Jewell (2), NE Missouri State (6), UM-StL (2), New Mexico, Utah. Utah beat MU in the second game of their series, 4-3,stopping the streak. The Tigers finished 36-27 that season and did not go on to the NCAA Regionals.

The 1981 Tigers rolled out a 16-game winning streak on their way to a 43-18 record and a visit to the NCAA South Regional. Gene McArtor's squad pulled out consecutive wins against Iowa (2), Westminster (2), NE Missouri State (2), Northwestern, Texas Pan-American, Seton Hall, Morningside, Northwestern again, Michigan State, and 4-straight against the Kansas Jayhawks. SIU Edwardsville knocked off the Tigers 11-7, ending the streak.

But the champion of all Mizzou winning streaks came in 1964, a banner year for the Tigers. John "Hi" Simmons took his '64 team all the way to the championship game of the College World Series before losing the final game to Minnesota. The 18-game streak is all the more impressive considering the relative shortness of a college baseball season in those days. MU's final record was 26-5-1. After beginning the season with one win followed by three losses, the Tigers went on to defeat Tulsa (2), Colorado (2), Iowa State, Kansas State (3), Oklahoma (3), Oklahoma State, Nebraska (3), and Kansas (3). The last game of the streak was the last game of the regular season. In the District V playoffs, Missouri tied St. Louis U by a 1-1 score before coming back to defeat them, 2-1.

Prior to 1964, most seasons were too short to provide the possibility of such long winning streaks. In Missouri's National Championship season of 1954, the entire season from opening day to the championship win over tiny Rollins College (4-1) encompassed only 26 games (and a 22-4 record).