Every single profession has its own Mecca – that job, city or aspect that is so hallowed by those who pursue it that they almost dare not dream of it for fear of failure. In sports, it is getting to “The Big Show,” the top league, playing in front of thousands of fans chanting your name. Athletes know how difficult it is to attain that goal, and that only the best get there. That is equally true for journalists.
Springfield College students got a taste of the high life on Wednesday as Springfield College graduate and current Red Sox insider Rob Bradford made his return to campus to have a Q-and-A session with current students at 3 p.m. in the Dodge Ballroom. To many of the students in attendance, Bradford’s return provided the chance to see an alum who once stood on the same ground as them, and has now made it to a level that many dream about.
Bradford graduated from Springfield in 1992 and went on to work for a variety of news sources, answering phones and covering smaller scale athletics until about 2003 when he began writing his first book, “Chasing Steinbrenner.”
In such a demanding and competitive field, Bradford emphasized relentlessly the importance of that chapter of his compelling life story.
“Everything I got in those 10 years…got me to where I am today,” Bradford said. “You have to go into a job interview and say, ‘This is how I can make your place better.’”
Bradford’s years of dedication and effort eventually paid off as he went on to work for the Boston Herald and eventually to WEEI (where he currently is now) as a site editor. Moreover, Bradford frequently appears on TV programs and has also filled in for Jerry Remy, doing the color commentary for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.
Bradford opened up with a fiery endorsement of Springfield College, stating that the importance of the hands-on experience that a student can receive is more important than the name of the institution they attended. From there on out, he faced a barrage of questions ranging from what it was like covering the Red Sox infamous collapse of 2011 and the nightmare that was the 2012 season as well as the more recently successful season.
On top of that, he fielded a variety of questions about the impact of the Boston bombings, how to get athletes to talk and trust a journalist and even how to keep from quitting in such a tumultuous career.
One of the more compelling moments that had such a huge impact on the students actually happened before the presentation. Just a few minutes before it began, Bradford was in the corner of the Dodge Ballroom on the phone seemingly in deep conversation. As it turned out, he was on the phone with current Red Sox relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan.
Though Hanrahan’s most recent season was a flop and limited by injury, the fact that he was conversing with Bradford was of much interest to many students. Bradford mentioned how he has had text message conversations with Dustin Pedroia, which lit up the faces of the students as it gave them a litany of reasons to continue pursuing journalism.
“It shows us how much we have to work and it gives us a reason to push harder to get where we want to be,” said freshman Communications/Sports Journalism student Jimmy Mariano.
Journalism is a career known for its difficulty to rise to the top, and most every student involved knows that it will likely be a while before their name is seen on a major network, but Wednesday gave students something to look forward to. They all know it will be a daunting and time-consuming process, but Rob Bradford proved that the payoff cannot be beat.