Bradley looks to polish Terps' diamond in rough

September 26, 1990|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

COLLEGE PARK -- If he could do it at Jacksonville University, Tom Bradley is convinced he can do it at his alma mater, too.

Bradley, 43, a Maryland graduate and a former major-league pitcher, plunged into his new job as the Terps' baseball coach this month. The team has a 13-game fall schedule that concludes Oct. 21.

As Maryland's fourth baseball coach, following Curley Byrd (1920-23), Burt Shipley (1924-60) and Jack Jackson (1961-90), Bradley has a towering assignment.

Jackson had 15 winning seasons in 30 years, but only one since 1981. The Terps were 22-26-1 last spring and won only two of 19 Atlantic Coast Conference games. Because of the freeze on athletic scholarships, Bradley couldn't bring in any recruits this fall.

"Maryland doesn't have enough good players," Bradley said. "The first year we'll have to go with what we have. We'll teach as much as we can and outwork the other guys. Nothing in my career came easy."

At Jacksonville, after a winning record in his first season, 1979, Bradley endured two losing years. Then the Dolphins had nine straight winning seasons.

"I'd like to think I helped build the program there," Bradley said. "We weren't a perennial top 20 team, but we were ranked six or seven times.

"Baseball went from a non-revenue sport to a money-maker. We enclosed the park and charged admission. We had concessions, sold 24 ads on the outfield fence and program ads and were on TV 10 or 12 times a year.

"A lot of teams are doing things like that, including Clemson and Georgia Tech. But you can't do it overnight."

A few years ago, when Jacksonville played a game against Maryland, Jackson told Bradley that he would soon be retiring. The idea of returning to his alma mater appealed to Bradley.

"I had reached the point where I needed a challenge," he said. "And a change. This is one of the few jobs I would have considered. I mean, it is my alma mater and the ACC plays good baseball."

Bradley came to Maryland the first time in the late 1960s from Falls Church, Va. He was drafted by the Angels after his junior year, but returned to Maryland and graduated cum laude in his Latin major.

Bradley spent 10 years in pro baseball, seven in the majors. A righthander, he twice won 15 games for the White Sox and retired with a career record of 55-61.

"In 1974 when I was with San Francisco, I hurt my rotator cuff and lost my fastball," Bradley said. "I had pitched too much -- 770 innings from 1971 to '73 in a four-man rotation."

One year, Bradley roomed with a power pitcher named Rich Gossage, who is now known as Goose.

"I gave him the nickname when he was a rookie in 1972," Bradley said. "He was gangly like a goose and he was putting up all those goose eggs on the scoreboard."

The Terps are well into their fall season, having already played Essex Community College, CC of Baltimore and the Orioles' Instructional team. They will play the Orioles again tomorrow night (7 o'clock) at Frederick.

The other remaining games, all at Maryland's Shipley Field:

* Sept. 29, Coppin State, 1 p.m.; Oct. 2, Anne Arundel CC, 3 p.m.; Oct. 3, Montgomery CC, 1 p.m.; Oct. 7, Hagerstown CC, 1 p.m.; Oct. 14, UMBC, 1 p.m.; Oct. 17, Prince George's CC, 3 p.m.; Oct. 20, Dundalk CC, 1 p.m.; Oct. 21, Catholic U, 1 p.m.

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