The Wall of Excellence, Class of 2011: Phil Bradley

Phil Bradley (1977-80)

Phil Bradley may have been the first seven-tool baseball player -- hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning, throwing ability, fielding ability, running the option, and passing.  Before he became an all-star for the Seattle Mariners in the mid-1980s, Bradley first became the Big Eight's all-time leading yardage leader and a three-time all-conference player.  But his career was not necessarily based on stats so much as moments.  He was behind center when Mizzou won at No. 5 Notre Dame and at No. 2 Nebraska in 1978.  He ripped off a gorgeous, long touchdown run in front of a gigantic home crowd against No. 1 Alabama that same year.  When Mizzou reached No. 5 in the polls in 1979, Bradley was in charge.  No. 9 in 1980?  Bradley again.  Bowl wins over LSU and South Carolina?  Of course.

Bradley's game featured pieces of seemingly every other great Mizzou quarterback.  Before Chase Daniel came along, Bradley had the distinction of starting the most games for ranked Missouri teams (20).  Like Corby Jones, Bradley was thrust into action as a freshman, forcing to learn on the job before he was truly ready to thrive.  Like Bob Steuber and Brad Smith, his open-field athleticism was downright jarring.  Like Blaine Gabbert, he received perhaps an undue amount of criticism at the time for his team's struggles.  And like Paul Christman, Bradley's skill set was dramatically before its time.  Few option quarterbacks were as skilled in the passing game; few passing quarterbacks were as adept on the ground.

Mizzou's struggles in 1977 ended up getting Al Onofrio fired, and Bradley received a lot of early criticism, a scarring experience for such an introspective athlete.  But incoming coach Warren Powers' system was perfect for Bradley's skill set.  So was the surrounding talent.  He shared the spotlight with such greats as Wall inductees James Wilder and Kellen Winslow, Earl Gant and Leo Lewis, and he posted stats barely imaginable at the time.

Hall of Fame Bio: One of the most decorated athletes in MU annals, Bradley lettered in football at MU from 1977-81, and in baseball in 1979-80-81. A native of Macomb, Ill., Bradley quarterbacked the Tigers to three bowl games. He was a three-time Big Eight Conference "Offensive Player of the Year" and set the conference total offense record at 6,459 yards which stood for 10 years. In baseball, he starred as an outfielder on MU teams that won the Big Eight championship in 1980, and went to the NCAA Tournament in 1980 and '81. Now a member of the Chicago White Sox, Bradley was drafted out of MU by the Seattle Mariners. He reached the Major Leagues with Seattle, in 1984, and played with the Mariners through 1987. He was named to the '85 American League All-Star Team, and that season hit his career-high 26 homers. He spent 1988 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and one-and-a-half seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, before being traded to Chicago.

Bradley's relationship with fans was up-and-down in his years in Columbia.  Needless to say, fans have viewed him more and more favorably as time has passed.  From The Savitar (1981):

Every summer he escapes the judgmental eyes of reporters, coaches and fans by returning to Macomb to work on Roger Kelso's farm.  There the work is hard but quiet. He bales hay, repairs fences, and heaven forbid, uses those golden passing hands to castrate hogs. Nobody looks over his shoulder.

"Basically it's my chance to get away from people," Bradley says. "Out there, nobody tells me what to do. They treat me different from coaches."

He is not a hermit. In fact, Bradley enjoys speaking at functions and wishes people would invite him to appear more often. The Columbia Quarterback Club speaks highly of him as one of the most eloquent players on the team. There is also a common discovery made by people who get a chance to deal with Bradley one-on-one away from football -- he is a genuine human being. …

"People treat me sometimes as if I came here boasting and bragging I was going to become a star quarterback," Bradley says. "I never did that. I came here very quietly and that's the way I want to leave … very quietly."

Phil Bradley. He set or tied nine Missouri passing records. He is the Big Eight's all-time total yardage leader. He was a three-time all-conference selection. He is the greatest quarterback in Missouri history.

Beyond that, nothing more need be said.

Nope, that about sums it up.

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