Outfielder C.T. Bradford (10) has enjoyed a solid two years so far with the Mississippi State program. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Mississippi State is a special place for the Bradford family.
After Mike Bradford spent two years of baseball with the Bulldogs in 1982-83, his son C.T. decided to follow in his footsteps and is a sophomore on this year's MSU team.
C.T. was aware of his father's time with the Bulldogs, but it was his own experience during the recruiting process that led him to Starkville.
"As far as him playing here and me playing here, it wasn't a big planned thing," C.T. said. "Coming out of high school, I had plenty of places to play. I just came here on a weekend for a recruiting trip, fell in love with it and it worked out that way. It felt like home to be honest."
After leaving Mississippi State, Mike and his wife Theresa said they didn't have a chance to return for visits on campus very much while their children were growing up in Pace, Fla., because of busy schedules.
Mike, who led the Bulldogs in runs scored with 49 in 1982, was pleasantly surprised when C.T. chose his alma mater to continue playing baseball.
"The last place I thought he would go would be Mississippi State to be honest," Mike said. "I just didn't think that was going to happen.
"His mother and I are both very proud. We're equally as proud of Mississippi State baseball, John Cohen and the whole group. His time there and our time there have been wonderful. We're proud of these boys and they are going to come on. We don't want anyone to count them out."
The younger Bradford and the Bulldogs host the Tennessee Volunteers tonight, Friday and Saturday in a key Southeastern Conference series during Super Bulldog Weekend.
After being drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 48th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Bradford came to MSU and had a banner freshman season.
In 63 games played (61 starts) for the Bulldogs, Bradford had a .303 batting average with 34 runs batted in. He was picked to the 2011 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team, the Freshman Academic Honor Roll and was a 2011 Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.
Bradford is hitting .275 with two home runs and 17 RBI so far this season.
The last two seasons have been an experience Bradford has enjoyed.
"I couldn't ask for anything more from the coaches and teammates, the guys that graduated last year and new guys who have come in," Bradford said. "I've had a good time playing and enjoyed every second of it. I plan on being here a long time."
Staying on the field has been a challenge for Bradford this season after injuring his non-throwing shoulder in a slide at second base against Penn State on March 7. He missed the next eight games and 10 of 12 starts.
It's a situation Bradford has committed to playing through.
"I'm just going to fight through some pain right now, get through the season and help the team any way I can," Bradford said.
Cohen realizes that there are going to be days that Bradford won't be feeling 100 percent and being healthy is a key.
"You are going to get a different C.T. depending on how he feels right now," Cohen said. "That's just human nature. When he's feeling good and feels like he has some mobility, it makes a difference in his total outlook which it would for anybody.
"He's a great leader and outstanding student. When he's at his best and at full health, he's one of the best in our league. Right now, he's just trying to find himself, his health and his stroke, but we love him and glad he's in our program. We're all big fans of C.T. Bradford for sure."
Bradford's father and mother made the trip to Pearl Tuesday for the Govenor's Cup game against Ole Miss and they plan to be in Starkville this weekend for Super Bulldog Weekend.
Not only does Mississippi State hold a special place in Mike's heart because of his son, but also the friendship and relationships established with the fans and people in general at the school.
"You look back and coming back 28 years later, you realize these are really good people up here," Mike said. "That's the thing my wife and I both remember best about Mississippi State."
C.T. is thankful for the support his father has given him and the Bulldogs.
"He has been more than I can ever ask for as far as baseball and being a father," C.T. said. "It's the same for my mom and my brother. They are excited (about Super Bulldog Weekend) and it's a good weekend to spend with them and play some baseball."
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