Way back when, little 4-year old Jackie Bradley Jr. sat watching a ball game on TV with his grandmother, Martha Brown.
“Grandma, I’m going to play in the major leagues one day,” little Jackie said. 17 years later, Bradley Jr. would be drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round out of the University of South Carolina, where he was a part of back-to-back national championships for the Gamecocks in 2010 and 2011.
The last time Brown and Bradley Jr. shared a moment was back in 2013 at his wedding, following one of her numerous heart disease operations. Brown then became very ill and passed away on April 21st, 2014, just two days after Jackie’s 24th birthday. The family pushed back Brown’s funeral onto a Red Sox off-day to make sure that Jackie could attend.
The connection between JBJ and his grandmother was very special to him. “There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her,” Bradley Jr. said.
Jackie also faced another tragedy in his life when his best friend Matt Saye was killed in a car accident. JBJ writes “MM” in front of the batter’s box before every AB, one M for Grandma Martha and the other for his friend Matt Saye.
Bradley has only shared this story a couple times before in his life. He was recently prompted to tell it after a visitor asked him about why his outward demeanor doesn’t change no matter what he goes through. Last year he was one of the worst hitters in the majors, and now, over the last month, he has been one of the best.
“I think it comes from knowing I’m blessed,” JBJ said.“There are a lot of people not fortunate enough to be doing what I’m doing, to live out my dream, what I’ve always wanted to do since Day 1.”
Nothing can get in the way of JBJ and his dream at the moment. Since August 9th, he is hitting an outstanding .458 (37 for 83) with 24 extra-base hits and 8 homers. At that pace over a full 162-game season, he would hit .354 with 32 homers, 152 RBIs, 58 doubles and 20 triples.
Bradley Jr. has already made his grandmother proud, but to keep up his level of play this month into next season would make an entire city and fan base proud as well.