It’s a story that former Seattle Mariners catcher Scott Bradley never tires of telling, a tale of three brothers trumping a father and son.
“When I was with the Mariners, at one point I played with both Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. at the same time,” Bradley said. “Everybody was making such a big deal about having a father and son playing together in professional baseball.
For the record:
12:00 AM, Oct. 28, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday October 28, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Sports family: In the Oct. 20 Sports section, in an article profiling brothers Bob, Scott and Jeff Bradley, all of whom found success in the world of sports, the name Procter & Gamble was misspelled as Proctor & Gamble.
“I used to go up to Junior all the time and say, ‘You think your family is so special? I want you to tell me right now how many families in the United States have a player, a coach and a member of the media in the same family.’ ”
Griffey just used to laugh, Bradley said, but the point was made.
The Bradleys, of Essex Fells, N.J., occupy a unique place in the American sporting landscape. Just consider:
* There is Bob Bradley, 48, the former soccer coach at Princeton, who later won a Major League Soccer championship and a U.S. Open Cup with the Chicago Fire in his first season as a head coach in the pros, and who this year has coached Chivas USA to the playoffs in only its second season.
* There is Scott Bradley, 46, the middle brother, who from 1984 to 1992 played 604 major league games with the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, who caught Randy Johnson’s first no-hitter and who, since 1997, has won six Ivy League titles as the baseball coach at Princeton.
* There is Jeff Bradley, 42, the youngest brother, who started out as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, became the beat writer covering the Yankees for the New York Daily News and now is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine.
One way or another, it appears the Bradley boys were destined for careers in sport. Their parents, Jerry and Mary Bradley, moved into a two-story Colonial home that was right across the street from an elementary school, complete with playing field and basketball courts.
The future was set.
“My father put in the time with all of us, whether it was pitching batting practice or whatever,” Bob Bradley recalled. “When we ran on that field, we were allowed to play. If you liked soccer, you played soccer. We all played basketball. There was a pond in town, so we all played hockey on the pond.”
Added Scott: “If there was a game, we played it. We’re all close enough in age where we were best friends as well as being brothers.
“We had built-in teammates with each other and we didn’t have to search very far to find a ball field or to find somebody to play with.”
Jerry Bradley had played baseball and football at Upsala College, going there on the GI Bill, and later coached football for a while. If sports were what his boys wanted to pursue, he was happy to oblige.
“I don’t think he ever missed a game that any of us played in,” Bob said.
Not that Mary Bradley was far behind in her interest.
“My mom loves sports,” Scott said. “Her radio was permanently on WFAN, which is all-sports talk station in New York. For years she’d work around the house all day listening to WFAN.”
Bob and Scott played together on their high school baseball and basketball teams, but while Bob’s interest centered on soccer, Scott’s turned to football.
Bob won a state championship in soccer as a freshman. Scott was an all-state quarterback. As for Jeff, well....
“I’m the one who had no athletic talent. I just happen to like sports,” Jeff said.
So while Bob went to Princeton still chasing a soccer ball, Scott headed for the University of North Carolina on a baseball scholarship and was followed there later by Jeff.
Chapel Hill was the making of Jeff Bradley as a sportswriter.
“I had been writing for weekly suburban newspapers as far back as when I was like 12 years old,” he said. “It was just like a hobby. North Carolina had a good journalism school.”
Jeff enrolled at UNC half-hoping to follow Scott’s footsteps, “I was a mediocre player who had big dreams.”
Writing became the way to fulfill them.
“They were building the Dean Dome right behind my dorm when I was a freshman,” he said, “and Michael Jordan was there my first two years, so it was hard not to become a hoops fan.”
Bob Bradley’s sporting career, meanwhile, seemed destined to come to an abrupt end.
“I can remember watching Bob’s last soccer game at Princeton,” Scott said. “They lost a heartbreaking game in the NCAA tournament to Penn State. And I was on the bus heading back to Chapel Hill and thinking, ‘What’s he going to do now? That’s going to be the last game that he’s ever going to play.’ ”
Jeff had similar misgivings, especially after Bob reluctantly took a job with Proctor & Gamble.
Eventually, Bob quit, went to Ohio University for a master’s degree and became coach of the Bobcats’ soccer team. He has not looked back.
Even today, although they are coaching different sports, Scott said his older brother still is teaching him a thing or two.
“I use Bob’s ideas and philosophies and thoughts so much to help me with what I do in the baseball world,” he said. “In terms of dealing with people, in terms of communication skills, in terms of just being brutally honest with people.
“It’s amazing how Bob would read a Bobby Knight basketball book and be able to translate the basketball into soccer. He would go watch Herb Brooks in ice hockey and he would translate that into soccer.
“The day that I finished up my playing career in professional baseball, Bob sent me Harvey Penick’s ‘Little Red Book’ and said to me, ‘Look, I know you’re getting ready to go into the coaching world, this is the greatest book on coaching and teaching ever written.’ ”
Jeff, meanwhile, had to cope with potential and perceived conflicts of interest when it came to writing about his brothers.
“I think it’s been hard for Jeff,” Scott said, “because I’m sure there were certain times when he was kind of pulled in different directions. But I think he handles it really well.”
Said Bob: “He tries to draw the line and not to get too involved in writing about teams that I coach, but aside from the professional end of things, his heart is always in it all the way. Certainly, he lives and dies with every kick of the ball on teams that I coach, just like he did with every swing of the bat with Scott.
“That’s the way Jeff is. My mom and dad are the same.”
One story captures all.
“There was a moment last year after Bob’s last game coaching the MetroStars,” Jeff said. “He didn’t know it at the time, but we were listening to the press conference because they showed it on TV.
“They had just lost to D.C. United, 4-1, and the first question was, ‘Is this a bad team or are you just a bad coach?’ I felt like crying. I remember how proud I was of how poised he was handling something like that. My mom was saying to me, ‘Now you know why people don’t like the media.’ ”
Jeff added: “I can’t hide the fact that when he’s coaching a team, I pull for the team. I couldn’t have it any other way.”