Photo courtesy JSU Media Relations
Jackson State University isn't short on great coaches who have brought the school wins and titles, including W.C. Gordon and John Merritt in football and Andy Stoglin in basketball.
One JSU celebrity worth noting is Robert "Bob" Braddy, who came from humble roots in Florence, Miss., and built the Tigers' baseball program into a SWAC powerhouse.
While playing for the Tigers, Braddy was named All-Conference pitcher in 1962 and 1963 under coach Joe Gilliam Sr. He returned to the university in 1973 to become the head baseball coach.
During his time as skipper of the JSU baseball team, Braddy won 824 games, the most in Tigers and SWAC history, and lost 546 games. His teams also won 12 conference championships—the most in league history.
His 1978 team went 52-12, which is a Jackson State and SWAC record for most wins. Braddy led the Tigers to three NCAA tournament appearances, two NCAA play-in games and four NAIA tournaments.
In his 28-year career coaching JSU baseball, Braddy had 52 players sign professional contracts. Eight of those players reached the major leagues. Under Braddy, both David Clark in 1983 and Earl Sanders in 1986 were first-round draft picks in the MLB Draft.
Curt Ford and Wes Chamberlain were two other players who reached the highest levels of professional baseball after leaving Braddy and JSU. The living legend also coached the colorful Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, who pitched in both the majors and minors from 1982 to 2005 for various organizations.
Braddy finished coaching in 2001, but he wasn't finished at Jackson State. He became the Tigers' athletic director, and the university named the baseball field after him in 2009 in honor of his 34 years in service.
Even before leaving coaching, Braddy started racking up accolades for his job. He was inducted into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2003, he became the first African American to enter the Baseball Coaches of America Hall of Fame. Braddy was honored again in 2005 with a spot in the SWAC Hall of Fame. Earlier this month, he was added to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming the second SWAC coach to receive the honor, following Grambling State University's Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones in 2011.
Even now, Braddy is involved with baseball. Mayor Tony Yarber and the City of Jackson allowed him to lease three run-down baseball fields that he plans to renovate.
He now has Little League approval to operate Bob Braddy Little League No. 10, with the No. 10 being a nod to the baseball-uniform number that he wore as a manager. The league started with three teams of 11- and 12-year-old athletes.